Emma Oakley



Research activity per year

Personal profile


Emma holds an MA (Hons) undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh, Postgraduate Diplomas in Law and Legal Practice (London), an MSc in Socio-Legal Studies (Bristol) and a PhD (ESRC funded) from the University of Bristol Law School. Emma additionally worked for many years in a wide variety of legal, educational, and third sector settings teaching, researching, and advising, as well as providing legal support. These broad-ranging experiences continue to aid her teaching and research.

Emma has experience teaching in the areas of Criminal Justice and Criminal Law, Criminology, Gender and Justice, Socio-Legal Theory, Socio-Legal Methods, Legal Skills and Methods, and Public Law.

Emma also retains a strong interest in public engagement and widening participation in university education. She tutored for a number of years on Bristol University’s ‘Pathways to Law’ Scheme, which encourages children from local disadvantaged families attending schools in deprived neighbourhoods to apply to and attend university, and more recently devised and led a well-received Aim Higher ‘Ethical Challenge’ workshop to West Midlands sixth-form students considering study at the University of Birmingham.

Emma also spent several years as a Citizens Advice Bureau Assessor and Advisor, and has delivered training to trainee Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer Assessors.

Research interests

Emma draws upon sociological and socio-legal ideas and methods to produce empirically-grounded, theoretically informed accounts of everyday legal decision-making, both lay and practitioner, and how this relates to the wider legal, cultural, organisational and social contexts in which people act. This nuanced, multi-layered law-in-action approach is intended to promote careful, critical reflection on current law, policy and practice, as well as stimulate realistic, imaginative, effective and equitable reform.

Having joined the School as Research Fellow in 2014-15, Emma continues to deploy similar techniques working with Dr Steven Vaughan on ESRC-funded research exploring the identities, ethics, and practices of corporate lawyers, as well as with other colleagues on projects examining defence lawyers’ use of judicial review to challenge magistrate court decisions, and how large corporate law firm recruiters interpret the value of LLM education. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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