The module will introduce students to critical legal techniques grounded in critical, feminist and social theories. The module develops basic theoretical understanding of law and society, critical legal studies and feminist legal studies through the critical analysis of the legal system, including legal education and the legal profession, before examining the role of critical and cause lawyering in advocating for social political and legal change in an Irish, comparative and international context. Case studies illustrate the potential, the challenges and the risks in the use of law as a form of oppression, resistance, change and stability in these contexts. Guest speakers from practice and colleagues in the School of Law and Government engaged in legal advocacy and reform will inform the module’s topics and discussions.



1. Introduction to Law and Society

  • Lawrence Friedman, “The Law and Society Movement” (1986) 38(3) Stanford Law Review 763-780
  • Lynn Mather, “Law and Society” in Robert Goodin (ed) Oxford Handbook of Political Science (Oxford University Press 2011) 289-306
  • Optional Reading: Amal Clooney, Human Rights Lawyer (Vanity Fair)
  • Optional: Roscoe Pound, “Law in the Books and Law in Action” (1910) 44 American Law Review 12-36

2. Introduction to Critical Legal Studies

  • Critical Legal Theory in Raymond Wacks, Philosophy of Law – A Very Short Introduction
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw at TEDWomen 2016 “The urgency of intersectionality”
  • Oran Doyle, “The Duration of Primary Education: Judicial Constraint in Constitutional Interpretation” (2002) ISLR 222
  • Optional: Roberto Unger, “The Critical Legal Studies Movement” (1983) 96(3) Harvard Law Review 561-675
  • Optional Reading: Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color”, (1991) 43 Stanford Law Review 1241-99
  • Optional Reading: Intersectionality 101
  • Patricia Ewick and Susan Sibley, “Conformity, Contestation, and Resistance: An Account of Legal Consciousness” (1992) 26 New Eng. L. Rev. 731-42.URL
  • Optional: On a Plate (A Comic Explaining Social Privilege)
  • Buzzfeed Quiz: How Privileged are You?

3. Introduction to Feminist Legal Studies

  • Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Bloomsbury
  • McGee v Attorney General [1974] IR 284
  • Mairead Enright, Meeting Mrs McGee: Reflections on Feminist Judging as Critical Legal Practice
  • Emilie Cloatre and Mairead Enright, `On the Perimeter of the Lawful’: Enduring Illegality in the Irish Family Planning Movement, 1972-1985″ (2017) 44(4) Journal of Law and Society 471-500
  • Equal Pay for Equal Work (Iceland’s New Approach, 2018)
  • Optional: Martha Fineman, The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition (2008) 20(1) Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 1-23
  • Women’s Legal Landmarks (Ireland)

4. Critical Legal Education

  • Nicola Lacey, Legal Education as Training for Hierarchy Revisited
  • Duncan Kennedy, Legal Education as Training for Hierarchy Politics of Law
  • William Quigley, “Letter to a Law Student Interested in Social Justice” (2007) 1(1) DePaul Journal of Social Justice 7-28

5. The Legal Profession

  • Resistance of Legal Professions to Reform (Irish Times 2016)
  • Irene Lynch-Fallon, Gender and the Legal Profession (2017)
  • Robert Elgie, Adam McAuley, Eoin O’Malley, The (not-so-surprising) non-partisanship of the Irish Supreme Court (2018) 33 Irish Political Studies 88-111
  • Top Ranks of Legal Profession Still Dominated by Men
  • Optional: Law and Suffrage – Four women lawyers who campaigned for the right to vote (Women are Boring Blog)
  • Hilary Sommerland, “A pit to put women in”: professionalism, work intensification, sexualisation and work–life balance in the legal profession in England and Wales International Journal of the Legal Profession Volume 23, 2016


6. Cause Lawyering

  • Anna-Maria Marshall and Daniel Crocker Hale, Cause Lawyering (2010) 10 Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences 301-320
  • Sarat Scheingold (eds) – Cause Lawyers and Social Movements
  • Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA)
  • briefing note on foy case 2015 fina
  • My Name is Lydia (RTE Radio documentary on Foy litigation)

7. Advocacy and Law Making

  • Patrick James McDonagh, Homosexuals Are Revolting’ – Gay & Lesbian Activism in the Republic of Ireland 1970s – 1990s
  • Brian Tobin, Marriage Equality in Ireland: The Politico-Legal Context International Journal of Law, Policy and The Family, 2016, 30, 115–130
  • Jane Suiter et al, Understanding the 2015 marriage referendum in Ireland: context, campaign, and conservative Ireland (2017) Irish Political Studies, 32:3, 361-381
  • Norris v Attorney General [1984] IR 36 (SC)
  • Norris v Ireland (1988 ECHR)URL
  • Zappone and Gilligan v Revenue Commissioner

8. Case Study: Historical Abuse

  • Gallen J (2018) ‘Redressing Gendered Mistreatment: Magdalen Laundries, Symphisiotomy and the Mother and Babies Homes”’ In: Gender and Law in Modern Ireland. Dublin: Hart
  • Colin Smith, “Procedural Obstacles to Access to Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse” (2020) Eire/Ireland (Forthcoming)
  • O’Rourke M, ‘The Justice for Magdalenes Campaign’ in Egan S (ed), Implementing International Human Rights: Perspectives from Ireland (Bloomsbury 2016)

9. Case Study: Homelessness

  • Rory Hearne and Padraic Kenna, Using the Human Rights Based Approach to Tackle Housing Deprivation in an Irish Urban Housing Estate Journal of Human Rights Practice Vol. 6 | Number 1 | March 2014 | pp. 1–25
  • Mary Murphy and Rory Hearne  An absence of rights: Homeless families and social housing marketisation in Ireland Administration, vol. 66, no. 2 (2018), pp. 9–31

10. Case Study: The Environment

  • Lisa Vanhala, ‘Legal Opportunity Structures and the Paradox of Legal Mobilization by the Environmental Movement in the UK’ (2012) 46(3) Law and Society Review 523
  • Jacqueline Peel* and Hari M. Osofsky, A Rights Turn in Climate Change Litigation? Transnational Environmental Law, 7:1 (2018), pp. 37–67