Alan Paterson


  • Visiting Professor, Law
  • United Kingdom

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

Professor Alan Paterson OBE,FRSE, FRCP Edin,  FRSA, FAcSS  was appointed as a Professor of law at Strathclyde University Law School in 1984. He served as Head of Department for 6 years and is now the Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies ( Scotland’s first think tank on Access to Justice and the legal profession ). As part of this he Chairs the International Legal Aid Group  ( a network of policymakers and leading researchers from over 35 countries ). Alan has advised governments and policymakers in a wide range of countries. He served as the adviser to Evans Rethinking Legal Aid: An Independent Strategic Review (2018). He also chairs the Legal Services Group of Citizens Advice Scotland; acts as special adviser to the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Law Society on peer review; and is Vice-Convenor of Joint Standing Committee for Legal Education in Scotland. Alan  chairs the Law Society of Scotland’s Complaints and Oversight Sub-Committee  and is a member of the Society’s Regulatory Committee and their Professional Practice Sub-Committee. He is the lay member on the Scottish Academy of Royal Medical Colleges.


Formerly, Alan chaired the Scottish Legal Aid Group, BILETA, and the Committee of Heads of UK Law Schools, thereafter serving as President of the Society of Legal Scholars. Alan also served as member of the Council of the Law Society (2000-8), the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland (2002-08) and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission ( 2008-12 ).


Alan Paterson’s principal research interests relate to the Judiciary , Access to Justice, and the Legal Profession:

The Judiciary

Alan’s seminal research monograph on The Law Lords ( 1982 ) was the first to be based on  interviews with Law Lords.  Further studies followed on judges as a political elite, judicial independence, appellate advocacy and judicial appointment. Aided by a Nuffield Foundation grant and by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2013 he published Final Judgment: The House of Lords and the Supreme Court  drawing on interviews with over 50 Law Lords, Justices and counsel.  It was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association prize for the” most outstanding piece of socio-legal scholarship” published in 2015, and the Inner Temple Book prize in 2015. In 2019 he served as the Moderator and Interlocutor for the "Three Presidents" event at the UK Supreme Court to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the UK Supreme Court.    Alan is working on a further monograph  provisionally entitled “Presidents and the Supreme Court” based on interviews with Presidents, Deputy Presidents and Justices of the Court. Elements of this have appeared as a lecture for the UCL Judicial Institute  “Presidency and the UK Supreme Court: Lord Neuberger’s Legacy” (2019) and in  “Creating a Group Oriented Supreme Court – Lord Neuberger’s Legacy”  International Journal of the Legal Profession (2021)  


Following the Brexit and Prorogation cases in the Supreme Court his work on senior judicial appointments Guarding the Guardians ( with Chris Paterson, 2012) and "Power and judicial appointment: Squaring the impossible circle" in E. Rackley and G. Gee (eds) Debating Judicial Appointments in an Age of Diversity ( 2017) has become particularly pertinent.


Access to Justice

Alan has conducted over twenty funded empirical studies in the access to justice field. Topics range from evaluating the Small Claims procedure to conducting Needs Assessment studies,  and from the Independence of Legal Aid to the Revalidation of legal aid lawyers. Key publications include Paths to Justice Scotland (2001) ( with Professor Hazel Genn ), Resourcing Civil Justice (1996) (with Tamara Goriely ) and  Face to Face Legal Services and their Alternatives (2013) (with Roger Smith). His most sustained work in the field, however, relates to quality assurance and assessment for legal aid lawyers ( peer review ) which he developed with Professor Avrom Sherr. Starting with the UK this work has now been taken up over ten jurisdictions globally, most recently in New Zealand, Moldova, China, Ukraine and the Netherlands. Relevant publications include Moorhead et al Quality and Cost (2001),  ‘Peer Review and Quality Assurance’ Clinical Law Review (2007), ‘Peer Review and Cultural Change: Quality Assurance, Legal Aid and the Legal Profession’ ( with Sherr) ( ILAG, 2017),  UNODC Handbook on Ensuring Quality of Legal Aid Services in Criminal Justice Processes:   Practical Guidance and Promising Practices ( with Miri Sharon )(2020),  Inception Report for UNDP: The international experience of applying peer review of legal services in the public sector and civil society institutions ( UNDP, 2020 ), UNDP Pilot project in peer review of Free Legal Aid staff attorneys’ cases in the East of Ukraine ( UNDP, 2021 ).


Alan delivered the Hamlyn lectures for 2010 Lawyers and the Public Good. ( Cambridge University Press, 2012 and ( with Bruce Ritchie ) published Law, Practice and Conduct for Solicitors in 2014.




Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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