Action Research in Legal Settings

I started my own law firm because I am convinced that it is possible to offer high quality experienced legal advice and assistance at much lower cost by reducing overheads and the use of new technology. Why should only the rich have the advantage of experienced legal assistance. If the law is anything it is a way to control power but the powerful don't like this so they employ hired guns to help overcome the barriers law puts in their way. I wish to research the use of technology with a view to improving on this. I wish the firm to have a strong ethos of social responsibility which will allow me to become involved in pro bono projects. I believe that a conflict avoidance and conflict resolution approach is better than the current adversarial hired gun approach. I also hope the firm will be a platform for research and development. I think that action research provides a good method for implementing my ideas. I intend to start by interviewing people involved in not for profit organisations to try to establish what their needs may be and encourage collaboration in the research.


I have not had others engaged in action research in legal settings but would love to track your process.
Action research as a dual goal, to improve yourself and to improve the practices that you are engaged in.
This is doing by studying an action you take.
Margaret Riel


I am very pleased that you have engaged with me and hope that my progress will be worth following. I had some trouble responding but it was because the text editor was slow to load so I thought it was not working. As I have never contributed to a wiki before I think it will take me a little time to get used to it but I am keen to see how it goes.
I have discussed the project with the Liverpool University School of management who are being very helpful. Currently I am surveying lawyer’s web sites to find any who are trying to take advantage of technology to improve access to law. I am also contacting third sector organisations and small businesses and have found some who are happy to get involved. Initially I will be having discussions to find out more about the way in which the law works in practice for these organisations. I am not sure yet how many to involve in the project more than 5 but less than 20 I think.
My first degree was in social science taken in 1978. At the time I became very interested in research methods and epistemology. I have been getting to know the field again which is pleasant like revisiting old friends.
Action Research does seem to me to me to be a very good way to practice, although I understand that there are critics who do not think that action research does truly engage with the world beyond academia.
In tandem with this I have been thinking long and hard about the function of law in society, reading historically and comparatively. My tentative conclusion is that lawyers should try to avoid the “my lawyers bigger than yours” competition and understand that the true function of law should be to reduce conflict not encourage it. I am encouraged in this having recently discovered an international community of lawyers who believe this. What is odd is that I have not located any such lawyers in the UK. There are many in the US which is surprising given the reputation of US lawyers.
I understand your initial edit and agree, however the commercial reality faced by the less wealthy user of legal services is a central issue. Commercial lawyers are not subsidised by government funds so the project will only be a success if it comes up with a commercially viable model which is not prohibitively expensive.


action research should not hide from the unpalatable otherwise it will live up to its reputation as a plaything for academic activists. Most people do not live in a world paid for by tax payer. I think this is from or inspired by Reason 1988 but I will need to check.