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Dr Judith Reynolds

Dr Judith Reynolds


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 Lecturer 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 teach in the areas of forensic linguistics; public, professional and intercultural communication; and qualitative research methods.  I also convene the Linguistic Ethnography Discussion and Study (LEDS) Group, within which staff, students and researchers meet regularly during term time to discuss and explore aspects of linguistic ethnographic research.

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



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

I obtained a BA (Hons) in French and Japanese from Leeds University, and then spent a year living in Japan and working as a Co-ordinator for International Relations through the JET Scheme.  On returning to the UK I 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. I completed an MA in Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions at Birkbeck, University of London, and then a PhD at Durham University, researching multilingual and intercultural legal advice communication in asylum and refugee law.

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. In 2018 I moved to Cardiff to take up an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship for 2018-19, under the project title “Legal advice-giving communication in intercultural and multilingual contexts: challenges, complexities and strategies for success”.

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

  • Candlin Researcher Award, 2018 – awarded annually by the Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice for the best postgraduate or post-doctoral paper produced following the ALAPP Conference. Paper entitled ‘Stability and hybridity in refugee legal advice meetings: Discursive structure as a resource for lawyer-client intercultural communication’.

  • 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

  • 2018-2019: ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University

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

Committees and reviewing








I currently teach on postgraduate and undergraduate modules in the areas of forensic linguistics; public, professional and intercultural communication; and qualitative research methods.  I also supervise undergraduate and masters dissertation projects.

Prior teaching experience

As a Teaching Fellow at Durham University School of Education (2017-2018), 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 Advance HE (formerly 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 my thesis 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.

Research impact

I was 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 enabled me to share my research findings with relevant groups and individuals (including through blog posts for legal advisors and asylum-seeking communities), and to explore its practical implications for lawyers, clients, interpreters, and others working in multilingual and/or intercultural legal advice settings.

Together with Dr Katy Brickley, I co-designed and delivered a training workshop, focused on language awareness and dealing with language barriers, for advisors working in asylum and migration settings.  Katy and I are also working together to develop some teaching resource materials on the topic of getting advice for use in ESOL classes with recently arrived migrants.

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 explored 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 (grant ref: ES/S010912/1) - £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.