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 Jess Mant

Jess Mant

Lecturer in Law

School of Law and Politics

I recently joined Cardiff as a Lecturer in Law in July 2018, where I currently specialise in family law, access to justice, legal aid and issues of structural inequality.

I am also completing the final stages of my PhD research, which is based at the Centre for Law and Social Justice, at the University of Leeds. The title of this project is 'Litigants in Person and the Family Court: The Accessibility of Private Family Justice After LASPO'. The purpose of this research was to explore the impact of recent legal aid cuts to private family law, imposed by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), particularly for those who are now consequently self-representing in private family law proceedings. By interviewing litigants in person about their experiences of the family court process, this project identifies several problems that exist for lay individuals attempting to navigate the family court without a lawyer, and emphasises the importance of conceptualising access to justice from the perspectives of court users themselves.

As part of completing this research, I have contributed to political consultations for law reform to the issues of domestic abuse and legal aid policy. Recently, this involved presenting my research findings to the Ministry of Justice, who are currently undertaking a review of LASPO and its consequences for organisations, individuals, the court system and the legal professions.

Alongside my PhD, I also frequently work with not-for-profit, voluntary and charitable organisations in order to inform best practices when assisting clients who are self-representing in family proceedings. In the past, this has involved organising joint academic and NFP workshops and events, which enabled academics, organistion representatives and volunteers to collaborate and inform each others work. Most recently, I have led a practical workshop alongside other practicitioners and academics in order to assist smaller organisations in preparing cases studies and qualitative evidence for the upcoming LASPO review.

In addition to my role at Cardiff and PhD research, I also act as Social Media Officer and sit on the Book Committee on the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Executive Committee. As part of this role, I am responsible for managing the social media profiles of the Association, as well as co-judging nominations which are made to the annual SLSA socio-legal book prizes.

I actively tweet about my research (and other subjects of interest) from @JessMant1.

Before arriving at Cardiff, I was based at the Centre for Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds. Here, I completed my LLB law degree (2011-2014), before completing a Masters by Research (MRes) in 2015 on the self-defined subject of family law and legal aid reform. Later in 2015, I began my PhD research within the Centre, which developed some of the ideas from this thesis into the Litigants in Person project I am currently completing.



My research focuses broadly on private family law, access to justice, legal aid and issues of structural inequality.

In this sense, rather than studying family law as a framework of rules, I am interested in understanding the ways in which the processes of family law are experienced by individuals in their everyday lives. Due to the subject of my PhD research, my particular expertise is the ways in which a restrictive legal aid policy for family law cases can have a disproportionate effect on those who are structurally disadvantaged for the task of attending court without legal representation. In addition to understanding the ways in which individuals experience family law processes, I am also interested in how notions of access to justice are understood and defined by different individuals within this context.

In addition to family justice, my expertise also includes the use of feminist methodological approaches and postmodern/theoretical frameworks - particularly Actor-Network Theory - which I also made use of during my PhD research.