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A modern Law library for a modern Law programme

Our library collection, like our LLB programme itself, is very forward-thinking. We do not duplicate old law libraries with shelf after shelf of collections of law reports, legislation and paper journals, all gathering dust through lack of use. For environmental reasons amongst others, we don’t want a hugely paper-based collection. So we have decided to go digital.

One of the major benefits of this is that students will be able to access core student textbooks digitally, at any time, and for as long as required. Students here will not be competing against each other for access to the same limited number of resources. They can access them online stress-free.

Going digital

Law has always been ahead of the game when it comes to digital resources and so for many years libraries in law firms have been getting larger digitally, while getting smaller physically. Our collection very much mirrors that model. As a result, we have a very real-world collection, with a strong emphasis on digital resources.

Like most academic libraries we have subscriptions to Westlaw, Lexis Library, HeinOnline and Nexis.

But unlike most academic libraries we have also gone for a subscription to Practical Law – a service most law firms opt for. And now that Practical Law and Westlaw are partner databases, they integrate seamlessly.

We have also gone for large collections of eJournals and eBooks from major law publishers, eg over 1,500 OUP titles, over 3,000 CUP titles and all the newly published Hart eBooks.

We are also one of the first universities to buy access to Sweet & Maxwell’s set of student eTextbooks (all of which are fully integrated into Westlaw, with hyperlinks from the text directly into relevant cases and legislation).

Fully available collection

We have made sure that all the modules on the LLB have core student textbooks available digitally, so that there will be no waiting to access these textbooks and you can access them from anywhere in the world. We have paper copies of key student textbooks of course.

You can also access hard copies of the All England Law Reports. We are delighted to have this fundamental collection amongst physical resources in our library.

Preparation for the workplace

Sometimes digital collections can take a bit of know-how to be able to use them fully. Students will be given as much help and training as they need from Greg Bennett, the law librarian, who has worked at magic circle firm, Slaughter and May and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, amongst other places.

The teaching of these essential legal research skills is fully integrated in the 21st Century Legal Skills module in Year 1.

So by the end of their time at Goldsmiths, students will be fully prepared to use the kind of legal libraries that they will have in their careers ahead.

The main advantages of our new collection at Goldsmiths are that it is fully bespoke to the needs of the students, teaching them how to use the actual resources that they are likely to encounter in their careers.

At Goldsmiths, we like to do things differently, and our law library will be something we will be very proud of in that respect.

Goldsmiths Law collaboration with pioneering ‘Forensic Architecture’ agency

The LLB Law at Goldsmiths is innovative and cutting edge, preparing lawyers for a flexible 21stcentury workplace. As such, the programme places a strong emphasis on inter-disciplinary legal analysis and equipping students with skills that are applicable to the legal profession as traditionally conceived (see, for example, our recent announcement about integrating workshops and advice on the barrister profession by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple) but also honing skills that will be central to future legal careers.

The latest illustration of this modern approach to legal studies is an emerging collaboration with Forensic Architecture, the pioneering research agency that undertakes advanced architectural and media research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organisations and environmental justice groups.

On 25 March 2019, Head of Goldsmiths Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, visited the award winning agency, where MA students in Research Architecture were presenting their ongoing forensic investigations, under the supervision of Dr Lorenzo Pezzani (who leads the MA Studio in Forensic Architecture) and in the presence of the director of the agency, Eyal Weizman.

The MA in Forensic Architecture examines how architecture can engage with questions of contemporary culture, politics, media, ecology and justice. Goldsmiths Law is very keen to collaborate with the MA in relation to research and teaching at the intersection of architecture and justice.

One of the students who presented their work at the workshop, Dimitra Andritsou, examines the politics of fire at play at Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, one of the frontier ‘chokepoints’ of the European border regime.

Slide from Dimitra Andritsou’s research presentation on fires at the Moria refugee camp as a manifestation of abandonment from the part of the state (credit: Dimitra Andritsou)

‘From blazes of indignation to flaring humanitarian infrastructure, fire on the island emerges as a lurking, ubiquitous presence’, her research project argues.

Dimitra’s work interrogates fire’s ‘manifestation as an ambiguous force that highlights the precarious, differentiated regime of abandonment and care, and thus signals institutional failure at diverse, inter-scalar registers’.

The Moria refugee camp (copyright: Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters)

Entering in conversation with Prof Giannoulopoulos about varied levels of accountability, and opportunities for intervention, from the local to the national and then to the transnational, including from relevant EU institutions, Dimitra replied that there was ‘an urgent need to problematize and rethink how accountability may be addressed at diverse levels in such a conflictual field’.

Earlier on this academic year, Forensic Architecture’s deputy director, Christina Varvia, spoke at Goldsmiths Law’s symposium on Technology and Human Rights (November 2018).

Forensic Architecture’s deputy director, Christina Varvia, speaking at Goldsmiths Law’s symposium on technology and human rights

Forensic Architecture have won several awards for their bold and innovative work, and were nominated for the 2018 Turner Prize.






Law programme works closely with the Bar to improve access to information advice and guidance

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

Our LLB Law programme at Goldsmiths is delighted to offer students a chance to access Inner Temple workshops on becoming a Barrister.

These workshops will be embedded in Goldsmiths’ ‘21stCentury Legal Skills’ course in Year 1. The workshops will include:

  • An introduction to the Bar, and the path to the barrister profession;
  • Support with applications that students will encounter during their journey to the Bar, applying for scholarships, and a particular focus on how to apply to the Inner Temple’s leading PASS programme.

Students will hear first-hand about the Inner Temple’s Pegasus Access and Support Scheme (PASS), which is designed to support aspiring barristers who have not yet started the BPTC. It was established by the Inner Temple and 62 different partner chambers across a range of practice areas. The aim of the programme is to improve access to the profession and to support high achieving students from under-represented backgrounds by providing the experiences they need to be able to thrive at the Bar.

PASS aims to do this by securing a mini-pupillage in chambers for each participant. PASS also supports participants by providing a focused professional and advocacy skills development programme.

The Inner Temple covers the associated travel and accommodation costs for PASS so that the participants can fully enjoy the mini-pupillage experience and the development programme. They’re looking for candidates who have attended a UK state school and who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Recipient of free schools meals
  • First in their family to attend university
  • Have parents (s) who received income support or they themselves are in receipt of income or housing benefits
  • School area: Preference is given to those students who have attended schools with a low attainment and progression to higher education rate

Preference for PASS is given to applicants who have participated in the following programmes:

  • Inner Temple schools project
  • Pathway to Law
  • Social Mobility Foundation programmes
  • Warwick Multicultural Scholars programme
  • Black Lawyers Directory Legal Launch Pad
  • Urban Lawyers

Goldsmiths Law will raise awareness with collaborating schools about the Inner Temple schools project and Pathway to Law initiative.

The Inn encourages applications from mature applicants and applicants with disabilities, and Goldsmiths Law will bring the programme to their attention, and provide guidance and support where required.

The integration of these initiatives into the LLB Law programme is overseen by Goldsmiths’ Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, who is an Associate Academic Fellow at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

US policy on violent crimes a cautionary tale for the UK

Goldsmiths Law’s annual criminal justice lecture, delivered by Stanford Law School renowned academic, Prof David Sklansky, draws attention to US criminal law’s obsession with violent crime and mass incarceration, and sends a warning note to the UK.

United States criminal justice policy took a calamitous wrong turn in the 90s. An oversimplified obsession with violent crime – typified by the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ laws and ideology – was the main engine of an unprecedented mass incarceration policy that had devastating consequences and ruined the lives of so many people in the country.

Many students from other Goldsmiths departments among the audience. Goldsmiths' Law concentrates heavily on interdisciplinary legal analysis.

Students from other Goldsmiths departments among those attending the annual seminar. Goldsmiths Law concentrates heavily on interdisciplinary legal analysis.

This rise and rise of violent crime, as a gateway to mass incarceration of an unprecedented level in comparable legal systems, could not be understood outside the context of race.

Two of the central ideas that Stanford Law School’s Prof David Sklansky explored in his talk at Goldsmiths, on Tuesday, 26 March 2019, when delivering Goldsmiths Law’s inaugural annual criminal justice lecture.

Violence was given great significance in US  substantive criminal law, he explained in more detail, though there did not seem to exist a rational basis – in the structure and grammar of criminal law – to distinguish violent from non-violent crime; rather criminal law’s fascination with, and emphasis on, violent crime had much to do with the fact that violent crime had been increasingly associated with black men, and with the impression that those committing violent crime were hardened incorrigible individuals.

From left to right: Prof Jackie Hodgson, Richard Glover and Hannah Quirk

From left to right: Prof Jackie Hodgson, Richard Glover and Hannah Quirk

Violence had little salience in criminal procedure, on the other hand. Police violent misconduct was therefore not being challenged in courts; where it was, judicial challenges nearly always failed. And institutional challenges did not even exist. Police in the United States were killing two or three times more people than in any comparable country, and yet the United States were not even formally keeping track of the number of deaths.

Similarly, the increase in the use of “stop and frisk” (stop and search) in the 90s or the militarisation of US police at the same time received very little attention from criminal procedure.

The story of violent crimes in the US was in reality a story about how criminal law thinks about violence, the central question that Prof Sklansly sought to address in his lecture at Goldsmiths, and a question that is at the epicentre of his next book.

To reduce mass incarceration in the US, punishment for violent crime needed to be reduced, he argued. Criminal law should think more deeply, in other words, about whether there was indeed rational justification for the disproportionate emphasis on violent crime (and excessive punishment for those committing violent crime).

The story of US policy on violent crimes was above all a cautionary tale for the UK, highlighted Prof Sklansky.  The UK Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, published in April 2018, showed that UK criminal law was thinking differently about violence than its American counterpart. It did not demonise people. UK criminal law was not obsessed with violence…

Prof Sklansky was aware that the Serious Violence Strategy had been criticised in the UK. But it could be seen much more positively when compared with the US, concluded the Stanford Law School academic, who is a former prosecutor and a world renowned authority on criminal law, criminal evidence and procedure.

Prof Sklansky was warmly welcomed to Goldsmiths by Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, who chaired the lecture.

Prof David Sklansky (on the right) with Goldsmiths Law Visiting Professor, HH Judge Donald Cryan.

The lecture was marking the Law programme’s emphasis on criminal justice and international human rights, noted Prof Giannoulopoulos, and it was most fitting that it would be delivered by a distinguished scholar with such deep knowledge in, and passion for, both.

The sold out lecture was attended by many Goldsmiths students, and eminent criminal law scholars from across the UK and Europe, including Zurich’s Prof Sarah Summers, the University of Nottingham’s Prof John Jackson and Prof Paul Roberts, Wolverhampton’s Richard Glover, DCU’s Yvonne Daly, Warwick’s Prof Jacqueline Hodgson, King’s’ Hannah Quirk, and Visiting Professor in Law at Goldsmiths, HH Judge Donald Cryan.

The lecture was a highly stimulating prelude to the annual criminal justice symposium that took place the following day at the British Academy (a story on that will appear in this blog shortly).

For more information on Goldsmiths Law’s emphasis on social justice issues, and research excellence in criminal law, criminal justice and human rights see here.