Date: 21st May 2019
Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR

Professor William Twining discussed his intellectual memoir, Jurist in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2019), in conversation with Professor David Sugarman. Jurist in Context tells the story of the development of Professor Twining’s thoughts and writings in the context of Africa, the UK and the USA. It addresses topics which have been central to his life and research including the complexities of decolonisation, the troubles in Belfast, the contextual turn in legal studies, rethinking evidence and law and globalisation. It advances a particular conception of Jurisprudence that can contribute to the academic discipline of Law in several important ways. It offers a window on legal academic praxis in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries by one of the most influential figures in British legal education over the last sixty years. It also provides a clear, vivid and often amusing context for all Professor Twining’s writings. Addressed to academic lawyers and non-specialists alike, 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 itsfuture development and potential.

The event was chaired by Professor Carl Stychin, Director, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, who welcomed and welcome back the large and distinguished audience to IALS saying it was his great privilege to chair this evenings event. He then introduced Professors Twining and Sugarman, describing both as well known internationally. Professor Twining needed no introduction. He was Quain Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at UCL, a leader of the Law in Context Movement, and a hugely influential contributor to Legal Education, Evidence, Jurisprudence and Globalisation and Law. Professor Sugarman was Professor of Law Emeritus at Lancaster University and, he was delighted to note, a Senior Associate Research Fellow at IALS, best known for his scholarly distinction and leadership in the fields of modern British legal history and socio-legal studies. Professor Stychin then handed over the proceedings to Professors Twining and Sugarman.
Professor Twining began by summarising the contents of Jurist in Context, and outlined its key themes. There then followed a wide-ranging 90-minute discussion, with Professor Sugarman questioning Professor Twining on a number of issues arising from the book. Topics included: the significance of Africa and colonialism on his life and work; why, as an Oxford law undergraduate, he felt misled, let down even betrayed by Salmond on Torts (which had been his favourite student textbook); the impact of his period in Belfast on his thinking; Warwick Law School and the “Law in Context” movement; the continuing lack of true dialogue and mutual respect between philosophically inspired jurisprudence and his more socio-legal genre of legal theory; and his desire to build upon and enlarge his “Southern Voices” Project. Professor Sugarman also noted that Jurist in Context was not just about ideas and places, but that it also illuminates the interaction between Professor Twining’s personal and professional life. For example, Professor Sugarman thought that the book described several successive oedipal rebellions against parents (especially, Professor Twining’s father), H.L.A. Hart, and to some extent, Karl Llewellyn, and he asked Professor Twining whether his life had been a series of classic oedipal struggles? Professor Twining’s responses had all the character of its author: they were insightful, stimulating, amusing, generous and rational; ambitious in aim though modest in tone; and acerbically direct in their diagnosis of what is wrong with legal education and what needs to be put right.

This was followed by a 30-minute period during which Professor Twining addressed questions posed by the audience before Professor Stychin brought the proceedings to a close, inviting those present to continue the conversation at the wine reception that immediately followed.

It was just left to Professor Twining to thank several individuals and institutions including the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies for hosting the occasion, Cambridge University Press for supporting the reception and Professor Sugarman for initiating the event. Professor Twining had circulated a short list of “Provocations” at the outset of the proceedings and a longer version of this document entitled, “Jurist in Context: A Scrapbook”, can be downloaded at:

Professor David Sugarman is Professor Emeritus of Law at the Law School of Lancaster University, UK and a Senior Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London,

Jurist in Context: a memoir by William Twining is published by Cambridge University Press.  An open access version of chapter 18 on “Globalisation and Law” is also available from UCL Discovery.