Glasgow Sheriff Court

Law Access to justice & the provision of legal services

Our expert staff have a number of research interests in this area.

Nicole Busby is interested in exploring the ways in which legal processes and legal players intervene (or not) in the employment relationship. Her work is particularly concerned with the operation of labour law's democratic function by which private employment disputes become matters of public concern. She has conducted research using legal consciousness theory and Sen's capability approach.

She's currently working with Emily Rose and colleagues at Bristol University' s Law School on Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) and employment disputes. This is a large-scale project funded by the European Research Council which examines workers' access to justice. It focuses on those who cannot easily afford to pay for legal services and who approach the CAB for assistance and support when faced with workplace disputes. For more information, please visit their website

Bryan Clark, is Professor and Head of Strathclyde Law School and Adjunct Professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. A commercial lawyer, his research interests now lie primarily in the field of mediation and its interaction with lawyers and formal civil justice. Recent published work funded by RICS and the Clark Foundation includes:

  • empirical studies investigating the attitudes and experiences of Scottish commercial and construction lawyers relative to mediation
  • the first monograph providing an in depth treatment of the historical development and current interaction between lawyers and mediation across the common law and civil law world (Lawyers and Mediation,  Springer, 2012)

He has also recently completed the inaugural title on mediation for the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia. He supervises a number of PhD students in this broad field and is a regular speaker on these topics at national and international conferences.

Donald Nicolson is interested in the role that university law clinics can play in teaching ethical awareness and in directly enhancing access to justice through the provision of legal services to those most in need and indirectly through encouraging new generations to go into legal practice with a commitment to enhance access to justice. He's written a number of articles on these topics on his own and in collaboration with JoNel Newman´╗┐, a law clinician from the University of Miami, with whom he has written an article comparing students from the two universities.

He's particularly interested in exploring through empirical research whether law clinics do indeed, as theory and the reflective diaries of his students suggest, make it more likely that law graduates will act in some way to enhance access to justice once in practice, and whether this likelihood is affected by the type of clinic concerned. For example, whether students' activities are extra-curricular or credit-bearing, whether the clinic is focused more on social justice rather than education, etc. To this end, he's planning a large-scale comparative longitudinal study in the impact of law clinics on graduate engagement with access to justice. He also intends to conduct an empirical study into whether students taught ethics in the context of clinical experience develop a greater sensitivity and understanding of ethical issues than non-clinical students and clinical students not exposed to a class on ethics.

Alan Paterson is in his 30th year as a Professor of Law at Strathclyde. He's the Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies in the Law School which is a think tank that brings together stakeholders from the Government, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society, the Scottish Legal Aid Board, Citizens Advice Scotland and academia to discuss and debate issues relating to access to justice, the provision of legal services, professional ethics and the judiciary.

As the chair of the International Legal Aid Group, Alan lead a recent EU delegation to China on legal aid, and acts as a research advisor to SLAB particularly in relation to the Quality Assurance in lawyering.  Alan was the first Scots legal academic for fifty years to deliver the prestigious Hamlyn Lectures, entitled Lawyers and the Public Good (Cambridge University Press, 2012). He launched his monograph on decision-making in the UK Supreme Court Final Judgment (Hart Publishing, 2013) at the second BAILII annual lecture in December 2013. In 2014 he published the second edition of Law, Practice and Conduct for Solicitors (W. Green, 2014) and was appointed as convenor of the Law Society’s Committee on Complaints. Alan has served on the Council of the Law Society, the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and his research interests include the regulation of the legal profession in the broadest sense.

Emily Rose is interested in the issues of power that come into play when people attempt to resolve problems they face at work. She has investigated the power dynamic in the employment relationship itself, as well as structural factors that shape workers’ ability to access justice when dealing with an employment dispute. She's currently a research associate on a European Research Council Funded project entitled Citizens Advice Bureau and Employment Disputes.  Here, she employs a socio-legal approach to understand how workers who cannot easily afford the services of a solicitor attempt to resolve workplace problems.

Dr Cyrus Tata, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, has interests in the criminal justice process and the provision of legal services. These include:

  • access to justice
  • lawyer-client relations
  • the quality of defence work
  • the impact of legal aid payment structures on decision-making
  • plea bargaining and plea decision-making
  • disclosure of prosecution evidence
  • the role of pre-sentence investigations in the provision of legal services
  • mitigation
  • the relationships between the legal profession and other professions
His empirical and theoretical research has been published in a range of international journals and has contributed to parliamentary enquiries in several countries. He's a regular speaker on these topics to national, overseas and international bodies.