How would you explain your research/area you teach?
I research and teach in the area of regulation with a particular focus on consumer protection law and policy. I am also interested in financial services (particularly banking) regulation.
What inspired you to pursue this area?
I enjoyed studying consumer law as an undergraduate and did a masters degree and PhD in different aspects of the subject. There is always something new happening in consumer law which makes it a particularly interesting area to work in. Also, because we are all consumers, consumer law affects every one of us.
How will your research/work affect the average person?
My research is focused on trying to understand and improve consumer law. I try to identify why it is not working as it should so that I (and others) can make it work better. I try to have a positive impact by my writing (my research on consumer vulnerability has been taken up by a number of organisations for example) and by working with a range of different stakeholders. I have been a member of the Council of the Consumers' Association (Which?) and an academic advisor to the UK Government and the Law Society of England and Wales.
How does your research/professional interests and experience influence your teaching?
The relationship between teaching, research and work with external organisations is very close for me with each bit feeding into the others. For example, I might advise a Government Department on the basis of some consumer law research I am doing and they tell me something I had not thought of which I then feed into my teaching. As well as bringing expertise to the work of other organisations I learn a lot from them. I feel that this makes me a better teacher and researcher.
What's been the greatest moment of your career so far?
There are two. I won a prize for 'Outstanding Legal Scholarship by a Younger Scholar' from (what is now) the Society of Legal Scholars not long after coming to Nottingham. I was also awarded a Lord Dearing Prize for Teaching Excellence by the University of Nottingham a few years ago. Both were great honours and encouraged me in the two main parts of my work: teaching and research.
What's the biggest challenge in your field?
Perhaps the biggest challenge to convince governments of the importance of consumer law. Budgets for enforcement (much of which is done by local authority trading standards officers) have been severely reduced at a time when there is a lot of scope for unscrupulous businesses to take advantage of consumers. Another major challenge is keeping on top of developments (for example in technology) which provide new opportunities for causing harm, particularly to more vulnerable people.
What advice would you give to someone considering an undergraduate degree in law?
Don't just think about what the law says, think about whether it works as you feel it should. If you read good academic articles on the law you are studying that will help you to develop your critical skills and to see law in a broader context. That brings the subject to life and will also make you a better lawyer.