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Prof William Twining
Appointment
  • Emeritus Quain Professor of Jurisprudence
  • Faculty of Laws
  • UCL SLASH
Biography

William Twining, was Quain Professor of Jurisprudence from 1983 until 1996; after a period as Research Professor he became Emeritus in 2004. He has held chairs in Belfast and Warwick and numerous visiting appointments. At the start of his career William taught for seven years in Sudan and Tanzania. He has maintained an interest in Eastern Africa, and more broadly the Commonwealth, ever since. He has studied and taught in several leading UK and American law schools. A prominent member of the Law in Context movement, he has contributed especially to jurisprudence, evidence and proof, legal method, legal education, intellectual history and legal archives.


His recent work explores the implications of globalisation for legal scholarship and legal theory. Central themes include the variety and complexity of legal phenomena; that many so-called global processes and patterns are sub-global, linked to empires, diasporas, alliances and legal traditions; that diffusion, legal pluralism, and surface law are important topics for both analytical and empirical jurisprudence; that, in a world characterised by profound diversity of beliefs and radical poverty, the discipline of law needs to engage with problems of constructing just and workable supra-national institutions and practices; and that adopting a global perspective challenges some of the main working assumptions of Western traditions of academic law. His  current research includes  the Legal Records at Risk project (LRAR) which is concerned with the preservation of records of private sector institutions specialised to law in England and Wales.


William has recently completed 'Jurist in Context', to be published by Cambridge University Press in March 2019 (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/jurist-in-context/EE73C73A2FE5E85C677DBBC8849431AA). This engaging and accessible intellectual memoir tells the story of the development of his thoughts and writings over 60 years in the context of three continents and addresses the complexities of decolonisation, the troubles in Belfast, the contextual turn in legal studies, rethinking evidence and legal education, and the implications of globalisation which have been central to his life and research. In propounding his original views as an enthusiastic self-styled ‘legal nationalist’, Twining maps his ideas of Law as a unique discipline, which pervades all spheres of social and political life while combining theory and practice, concepts and values, facts and rules in uniquely fascinating ways. Addressed to academic lawyers generally and to other non-specialists, this story brings out the importance and fascinations of a discipline that has changed, expanded and diversified in the post-War years, with an eye to its future development and potential.


William Twining is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), a Fellow of the Academy of Social Scjences (FASS), and a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) and an Honorary QC. He was awarded the 2016 Halsbury Legal Award for Academic Achievement.


Research Summary

Over a career of more than sixty years William has researched and published extensively in four main areas: Jurisprudence Karl Llewellyn and the Realist Movement 1973, 2nd edn., 2012, How To do Things with Rules (with David Miers, 5th edn, 2010); Evidence (Rethinking Evidence (2nd. edition, 2006); Legal Education (Blackstone’s Tower, (1994) “Rethinking Legal Education” (Lord Upjohn Lecture, 2018); and Globalisation and Law (General Jurisprudence, 2009; Globalisation and Legal Scholarship, 2011). He has also had a lifelong interest in archives. The story of the development of his ideas and how they are interrelated is told in Jurist in Context: A Memoir (2019).

His recent work explores the implications of “globalisation” for legal scholarship and legal theory. Central themes include the variety and complexity of legal phenomena; that many so-called “global” processes and patterns are sub-global, linked to empires, diasporas, alliances and legal traditions; that diffusion, legal pluralism, and surface law are important topics for both analytical and empirical jurisprudence; that, in a world characterised by profound diversity of beliefs and radical poverty, the discipline of law needs to engage with problems of constructing just and workable supra-national institutions and practices; and that adopting a global perspective challenges some of the main working assumptions of Western traditions of academic law. 

Professor Twining is researching in the following areas:

General Jurisprudence 

Narrative and Reasoning in Legal Contexts 

Legal records at risk


Teaching Summary


No longer teaching 

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