Law School's latest successful PhD: Dan Newman
9 August 2011
Congratulations to Dan Newman who has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for his thesis entitled "Access to Justice and the Practitioner-Client Relationship: An Ethnographic Investigation into the World of Criminal Legal Aid." His examiners were Professor Celia Wells (Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Bristol) and Professor Ed Cape (Professor of Criminal Law and Practice at the University of the West of England).
I'm really proud of the work and it really is satisfying to have that recognised by others in the field.
Dan's thesis looked at access to criminal justice by conceptualising its status as tied in with the health of the lawyer-client relationship under legal aid. This topic was addressed by means of a twelve month ethnographic fieldwork, comprising an initial stage of participant observation with a later round of formal exit interviews. The data produced somewhat conflicting accounts. In interview, lawyers described a healthy relationship with clients to whom they were devoted. Under observation, there emerged an unhealthy relationship as lawyers degraded their clients. Giving more credence to what was seen than what was said, these results challenged the prospect of achieving access to criminal justice in practice, creating the need to ensure that lawyers walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Dan is currently in the process of submitting an article based on his research to the same legal journal where authors of the two previous ethnographic studies of legal aided criminal defence engaged in a heated dialogue some two decades ago, a dialogue which inspired his own work which attempts to resolve their differences. He will be shortly be moving on from the University of Bristol Law School to take up a research assistant post at Cardiff Business School.