Three things got me into socio-legal work. The first was being sent by Michael Zander to a police station to ask what information they had for arrested people: no one told the police that I and 50 other first-year law students were about to descend on them. The second was watching a man fall off the roof of a train between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum, get arrested for travelling illegally while being screamed at by 300 people sitting on the same roof who of course were not arrested. The third was taking a course in anthropology of law. That alone made me realise there was much more to law than, to my mind then, stultifying doctrinal analysis of statutes and cases. The other two forced me to consider that the world was normatively pluralist and that there were other sources of norms than the state.
I experimented with empirical work by going to
I was convinced to understand the legal system we had to understand how lawyers functioned within it. To find this I had to go the
Of course that doesn’t hold now. Over 50% of the law schools in the RAE2001 said they did socio-legal work. But that raises a serious question for me. Preparing students for socio-legal work is time consuming and necessitates a series of skills, most of which are absent from law schools. In the
One final point: being a empirical socio-legal scholar in a law school, which is where most are in the