Karen McAuliffe

Colleges, School and Institutes


Karen McAuliffe joined Birmingham Law School as a Reader and Birmingham Fellow in January 2016 from Exeter University, where she had held posts of lecturer and senior lecturer since 2007.  Prior to entering academia, she worked as a lawyer-linguist at the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.  Karen’s main research interests and areas of expertise are in multilingual law production in the European Union; post-enlargement dynamics of law and language in EU institutions and the relationship between law, language and translation in the EU legal order.  She is currently working on a 5-year €1 million research project, funded by the European Research Council, on law and language at the Court of Justice of the European Union.  More information on that project can be found on the project website: www.llecj.karenmcauliffe.com

Dr McAuliffe is on the ESRC College of Reviewers and on the editorial board of a number of international peer-reviewed journals, including The International Journal for the Semiotics of Law; The International Journal for Law, Language and Discourse; The International Journal of Legal English and Language and Law/Linguagem e Direito.  She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Society of Legal Scholars; International Language and Law Association; International Association of Forensic Linguistics; Multicultural Association of Law and Language; RELINE and a founder member of the Germanic Association of Forensic Linguistics.

Since 2011, Professor McAuliffe has been a visiting professor at the University of Luxembourg, where she teaches on the Masters in European Governance.  She has also previously held teaching positions in law and political science at The Queen’s University of Belfast and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, as well as (short-term) visiting positions at iCourts Centre of Excellence for International Courts at the University of Copenhagen and Michigan State University College of Law, Doshisha University, Kyoto.  She regularly delivers talks and guest lectures at institutions around the world.

Research interests

Professor McAuliffe’s research focuses mainly on the field of law, language and translation in multilingual legal orders – in particular the EU and EU institutions.  She is also interested in the functioning of EU institutions, the relationship between law and language and the role and use of language within a legal system.  Her current research can be divided into three distinct areas:

  1. Post-enlargement dynamics of law and language in European Union Institutions
  2. The relationship between language, law and translation in the EU legal order
  3. Developmental social neuroscience, ethics and the law

Karen’s work is largely empirical and interdisciplinary, drawing on research methodologies from fields of sociology, anthropology, translation studies and linguistics to introduce new perspectives on the development of (EU) law.

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

Professor McAuliffe is currently committed to work 100% of her time on the European Research Council project ‘Law and Language at the European Court of Justice’, but welcomes research proposals for future doctoral and postdoctoral research in the following areas:

The relationship between language and law
Multilingual legal systems
Legal translation/Institutional translation and its impact on law
Dynamics of language/culture/multilingualism in European Union Institutions
Proposals for empirical research projects and projects using interdisciplinary methodologies in those areas are particularly welcome.