New independent legal think-tank launched
7 September 2010
This week sees the launch of the Halsbury’s Law Exchange, a new independent legal think-tank funded by LexisNexis.
The new organisation describes itself as “an independent and politically neutral think tank which contributes to the development of law and the legal sector“, aiming to “promote debate through papers, reports, events and media pieces.” The think-tank is chaired by legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg, who is joined by a number of eminent barristers and solicitors.
John Cooper, a human rights barrister and inaugural member, makes the case for the think-tank on guardian.co.uk today. He argues that “Although the law represents the spine of democratic society and lays down the standards by which we live, the public have little influence upon it, which gives succour to the view that laws are created by the elite and imposed upon the masses.” Moreover, “The only place for debate and analysis was in the newspapers, themselves with political agendas.”
The think-tank’s website contains a blog, although it hasn’t been updated since August 20th so it is not clear how much of a feature this will be.
It can only be a good thing for there to be an additional independent voice in the legal world. The Law Commission does a good job but is limited by the number of projects it can undertake. And, as Mr Cooper rightly says, whilst other think tanks and newspapers comment on the law it is not always clear whether they have a wider political agenda.
No doubt the Law Commission will welcome a new and hopefully intellectually rigorous voice in the legal landscape. Moreover, readers of this blog will know that new technology is finally making inroads into the legal system, and hopefully the new think-tank, which comprises a number of cutting-edge lawyers, will have a good think about how access to justice can be improved and the public can have, if not true influence on the law, then at least a better idea of how it works. It is also to be hoped that the practitioner members, who are at the top of their respective fields, have the time and energy to contribute meaningfully to this project.
On the topic of access to justice, it is quite amazing how many independent voices have arisen in the legal world. A flurry of legal blogs have recently been launched, some of which can be found alongside ourselves at the Guardian Legal Network. Honourable mentions should also go to some new and some more long-standing legal blogs: CharonQC, Jack of Kent, Nearly Legal, Strasbourg Observers, Head of Legal, EJIL: Talk! and PHD studies in human rights. Meanwhile, the eminent US-based SCOTUSblog, which keeps track of the US Supreme Court, has just launched “version 4.0.” of its site, and it is still leading the way with its innovative but simple new layout and features.
Of course, a think-tank will have the time and resources to carry out deeper legal research than bloggers can. So, best of luck to the new think-tank and we look forward to hearing its views and joining in the debate.
Do you have any suggestions for topics which need attention from the new think-tank? If so, please leave a comment.
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