Law Workshop, Cardiff University

By Frances Rock, Cardiff University

The Law Workshop related to the final data collection phase of the TLANG project and provided an opportunity for the project teams to share their preliminary findings and receive suggestions and ideas from one another and from a fascinating and committed invited panel.  The event, in Cardiff, took place on 19th January 2017.  The law phase has been concerned with collecting data in legal advice contexts which can be seen as translation zones on many levels. Translation in its various senses became a really important theme of the discussions. During the day, each of the TLANG Project’s four case study teams presented their work.

The invited guests consisted of practitioners and academics with a range of backgrounds beyond language study, bringing a valuable interdisciplinary dimension to the event.  They were:

*       Nimrod Ben-Cnaan (Head of Policy and Profile, Law Centres Network)
*       Dr Katy Brickley (Freelance researcher with an interest in assisted voluntary return processes)
*       Professor Julie Price (Head of Cardiff Law School Pro Bono Schemes)
*       Fizza Qureshi (Director, Migrants’ Rights Network)
*       Dr Bernadette Rainey (Director of the Cardiff Law School Centre for Human Rights and Public Law)
*       Judith Reynolds (Durham University – Doctoral candidate on the Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State Project investigating migrant legal advice)

Most of these guests were able to remain with us for the whole day and to participate in a fascinating and constructive closing panel discussion and all generously related their various disciplinary and professional experiences to the TLANG work.

During the day, we were able to discuss the nature of central concepts such as the very nature of legal advice, representation and advocacy and the way that our work might contribute to understandings of these activities as ongoing and situated social relationships. Several themes emerged repeatedly across the presentations.  One was the way that legal advisers not only provided advice on legal issues but also facilitated various forms of participation and identification for clients. Conviviality, empathy and allegiance emerged as crucial components of this work which we might further theorise as the data analysis continues. There were issues of the boundaries between clients and advisors in respect of the delicate balance entailed in building trust whilst maintaining professional distance. The role of interpreters in legal encounters seems to be something that our project will have interesting insights on along with the notions of face, professional mastery and intersubjectivity as they materialise in the data. We heard about the details of the activities of the aers in each location and the way in which their work existed within and around institutional structures including changes to Legal Aid provision, branding and patterns of need.  The event was extremely valuable as the teams now begin to analyse their legal data in detail.

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