Skip to content

Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research

The Law’s Two Bodies

The Law’s Two Bodies project, conducted within the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research, asks the question ‘what is law’, but pursues an answer in a fashion different from typical jurisprudential studies.  It examines what legal practitioners do; how they regard law; to what extent they think about law in the abstract.

The title and some of the inspiration for the project comes from Sir John Baker’s book of the same name. Central to the book is the argument that ‘The common law is almost universally regarded as a system of case-law, increasingly supplemented by legislation, but this is only partly true. There is an extensive body of lawyers’ law which has a real existence outside the formal sources but is seldom acknowledged or discussed either by legal theorists or legal historians.’ Sir John’s book is historical in its focus, but that of the present project is contemporary.

The approach is ethnographic rather than philosophical or sociological. The aim is to build up a corpus of interviews with a variety of legal practitioners, concentrating on the issues outlined above.

The interviews involve a set of questions posed to all interviewees and then further questions arising from the initial answers or appropriate to each interviewee. Interviews take place in a workshop setting, with attendees from the Institute, the Student Law Society, and others including local practitioners.

Dame Elish Angiolini, Principal of St Hugh’s College Oxford and formerly Lord Advocate of Scotland (27 October 2018).
Hugh Dillon, Deputy State Coroner, New South Wales; Committee Member, National Judicial College of Australia (4 May 2017).
Bruce Frier (as the Roman jurist Julian), John and Teresa D’Arms Distinguished University Professor of Classics and Roman Law, University of Michigan (9 May 2019).
William I. Miller (as Njál, of Njáls saga), Thomas G. Long Professor of Law (12 May 2018).
Harry Potter (as Thomas Erskine), barrister 25 Bedford Row (3 May 2019).
Paul Seils, European Institute of Peace (26 October 2018).

Additional videos (member access)

Sir John Baker (as Sir Edward Coke), Downing Professor Emeritus of the Laws of England, University of Cambridge (27 October 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Giulia de Bosio, lawyer at Trevisan & Cuonzo (11 February 2019) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Rita Feikema, associate at Jenner and Block (30 March 2019) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Daniel Greenberg, barrister specialising in legislation, (19 November 2019) – video

Justice Virginia Bell, High Court of Australia, (1 December 2019) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Howard Dellar, Partner and Head of Ecclesiastical Education & Charities, Lee Bolton Monier-Williams (6 March 2020) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Aidan O’Neill, QC, Scottish advocate, barrister, and Queen’s Counsel  Video

Ambassador Susan D. Page Video

Len Niehoff, litigation attorney at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP and a Professor from Practice at University of Michigan Law School (3 April 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Stuart Pemble, partner at Mills and Reeve Solicitors (17 April 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Professor Richard Posner, University of Chicago Law School and former Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (30 March 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

David Brynmor Thomas, Barrister, 39 Essex Chambers (28 October 2016) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Malik Dahlan, Principal of Institution Quraysh for Law and Policy (7 November 2016) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC (7 March 2017) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Benjamin Earl,  Procurator General of the Dominican Order (3 October 2017) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Angela Wilson, former Assistant Chief Constable, Tayside Police (7 November 2017) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Kristina Stern SC, Selborne Wentworth Chambers, Sydney (11 January 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Geoff Lindsay, Justice, Supreme Court of New South Wales (14 January 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Mandy Tibbey, Barrister, 8 Wentworth Chambers, Sydney (14 January 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Murray Gleeson, Chief Justice of Australia, 1998–2008 (16 January 2018) – transcript (ILCR members’ access only)

James Allsop, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia (17 January 2018) – transcript (ILCR members’ access only)

Douglas Kinnear, Thorntons (13 February 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)

Bridget McCormack, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court (20 March 2018) – video (ILCR members’ access only)