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Professor Hilary Sommerlad

Professor of Law and Social Justice, University of Leeds

I have been studying women lawyers for over 20 years, and in 1998 co-authored (with P. Sanderson) the first full-length study of women solicitors in England and Wales:  Gender, Choice and Commitment: Women Solicitors and the struggle for equal status 1998 (Aldershot, Dartmouth) ISBN 1 84014 454 8.  As the profession has become more diverse, my research interest has expanded to include the experiences of  BAME lawyers  and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  My particular interest is in professional identity formation, the role of cultural practices in maintaining the professional dominance of white, upper middle class males and the meaning of key concepts such as merit and professionalism.  I am a founding member of the Equal Justices Initiative http://www.law.qmul.ac.uk/eji/index.html which campaigns for more women judges.


Key Publications:

“Diversity, Merit and the English judiciary: the lessons that can be learned from the reform of selection processes, a UK contribution”(December 2013), 40 FORDHAM URB. L.J. CITY SQUARE 94 http://wwwurbanlawjournal.com/diversity-merit-and-the-english-judiciary/.  pp. 94-107

‘Let History judge? Gender, race, class and performative identity: a study of women judges in England and Wales’ in Schultz, U & Shaw, G (eds) Gender and Judging 2013 (Oxford, Hart Publishing) 355-375, Paperback ISBN 9781841136400
(with Webley, L; Muzio, D; Tomlinson, J and Duff, L) Diversity in the legal profession in England and Wales: a qualitative study of barriers and individual choices (London, Legal Services Board, 2010 http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/what_we_do/Research/Publications/pdf/lsb_diversity_in_the_legal_profession_final_rev.pdf
(reissued London University of Westminster Law Press 2013 ISBN: 978-0-9927330-0-1)

(with J. Tomlinson, D. Muzio, L. Webley & L. Duff) ‘Structure, agency and career strategies of women and Black and Minority Ethnic  individuals in the legal profession’ 2013 Human Relations (http://hum.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/11/06/0018726712460556)

‘Minorities, Merit, and Misrecognition in the Globalized Profession’, 2012 Fordham Law Review 80, pp 2482-2512


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