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Dr Judith Reynolds

Dr Judith Reynolds

Research Associate

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 (0)29 2087 5408
Room 3.36, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

I am a Research Associate in the Centre for Language and Communication Research, which is part of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy

My research investigates multilingual and intercultural communication in legal advice work, focusing on legal advice about asylum and refugee family reunion in the UK. I draw on discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics and linguistic ethnography to explore how lawyers, clients and interpreters use language and other means of communication in face to face advice meetings. 

I am supported by an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship for 2018-19, with the project title “Legal advice-giving communication in intercultural and multilingual contexts: challenges, complexities and strategies for success”. The goals of the Fellowship are to share the findings from my research with a diverse range of relevant groups and individuals, and to explore its practical implications for lawyers, clients, interpreters, and others working in multilingual and/or intercultural legal advice settings.

My work is informed by my professional background as a solicitor (non-practising), in addition to my academic expertise.


I am a Post-Doctoral Research Associate here in the Centre for Language and Communication Research which is part of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy

I am supported by an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship for 2018-19, with the project title “Legal advice-giving communication in intercultural and multilingual contexts: challenges, complexities and strategies for success”.  The Fellowship supports the development and dissemination of the research I carried out during my PhD at Durham University, on multilingual and intercultural legal advice communication in asylum and refugee law.

I hold a BA (Hons) in French and Japanese from Leeds University, after completing which I spent a year living in Japan and working as a Co-ordinator for International Relations through the JET Scheme.  After this I returned to the UK and trained in law, pursuing a career as a practising solicitor during which I worked in a range of industries and sectors. 

My enduring interest in language and intercultural communication, coupled with driving curiosity about the role of language in social justice, motivated me to return to study after a number of years, and I obtained an MA in Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions at Birkbeck College, University of London, before embarking on a PhD. My Masters dissertation explored the intercultural competence development of law students engaged in a short-term international service-learning (volunteering) programme.

During the final stages of my PhD I was a Teaching Fellow in the School of Education at Durham University, where I had a range of teaching and administrative roles, including membership of the School’s ethics committee. I have also co-delivered a number of workshops to masters and doctoral students on topics such as researching multilingually, ethics and vulnerability in research, and intercultural learning from study abroad experiences.  

I hold an English teaching qualification, and have taught English to a diverse range of students in the UK, Morocco and Japan in a voluntary capacity.

Honours and awards

  • British Association for Applied Linguistics - Richard Pemberton Prize for best postgraduate paper at the BAAL 2017 annual conference, Leeds, UK. Paper entitled ‘Relational work and managing difficult messages in giving refugee legal advice‘.

Professional memberships

Academic positions

  • Teaching Fellow, School of Education, Durham University, 2017-2018

Committees and reviewing





I do not currently have any teaching responsibilities.

Teaching experience

My previous post was as a Teaching Fellow at Durham University School of Education. In this role I delivered:

  • Qualitative research methods teaching for undergraduates and postgraduates
  • Intercultural communication teaching for postgraduates
  • Undergraduate dissertation supervision in the field of education
  • Masters dissertation supervision in the field of intercultural and international education

Teaching qualifications

I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I also hold a CELTA (English teaching to adults qualification), and have taught English in a volunteer capacity in a range of contexts and organisations.

Doctoral research

My doctoral research investigated communication between lawyers and clients in the culturally and linguistically diverse setting of UK asylum and immigration law. My doctorate was completed within the AHRC large-grant project Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language: the Body, Law and the State (2014-2017; PI: Prof. Alison Phipps; AHRC Grant Ref: AH/L006936/1). 

In this research I explore how lawyer and client, and sometimes interpreter, negotiate understanding across cultural and linguistic borders. I examine the use of language(s) and other means of communication to establish and build relationships, and to give and receive legal advice. 

I ground my work in a conceptualisation of legal-lay communication as intercultural communication. I see the work of legal advisors as one of mediation, or translation, between the world of legal discourse and the world of the client.  In legal settings such as asylum and immigration law, additional layers of interculturality and multilingualism, over and above the legal-lay, are also significant for the communication taking place between lawyer and client.

To investigate this complex professional mediation setting, I use linguistic ethnography, combining ethnographic fieldwork with discourse analysis of observations and audio recordings of legal advice meeting interactions in a detailed case study. I draw on a range of discourse analytic frameworks, including communicative activity type analysis, transcontextual analysis, and interactional sociolinguistics, and examine the discursive structure and intertextual nature of legal advice communication that is intercultural and multilingual.

Throughout my research I have engaged with issues around how researchers carry out research involving multiple languages, and I retain an active interest in researching multilingually.

Other research activity

Separately, I have also contributed to the EUROMEC research project, which examines the process and experience of doctoral study in various European countries.  The project explores doctoral graduates’ and doctoral supervisors’ experiences of the doctoral process, through qualitative interviewing and thematic analysis (publication forthcoming).

Research interests

  • Intercultural communication
  • Critical perspectives on multilingual interaction
  • Legal-lay communication
  • Professional and institutional communication
  • Language, culture and identity
  • Professional education and training
  • Language and professional (and academic) identity formation
  • Researching multilingually

Research funding

  • ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2018-2019: Legal advice-giving communication in intercultural and multilingual contexts: challenges, complexities and strategies for success - £88,100
  • AHRC Research Grant Funded Doctoral Scholarship 2014-2017: part of Researching Multilingually at Borders project large grant (grant ref: AH/L006936/1) - £17,859 p.a.