School of Social and Political Science

Michael Adler

Job Title

Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies and Leverhulme



I have a BA in Chemistry from Oxford, an AM in Sociology from Harvard and a PhD in Socio-Legal Studies from Edinburgh.  I am an Academician in the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS). 

Biographical Statement

I joined Social Policy as a lecturer in 1971, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1984, to Reader in 1991 and to Professor in 1996.  I was Professor of Socio-Legal Studies until I retired in 2008 when I was made an Emeritus Professor.  I held a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship from 2008-2010 and am currently an Honorary Fellow.

Between 1971 and 2008, I taught a wide range of courses for undergraduates, students on taught postgraduate courses and PhD students, and was, at various times, convener of the introductory course on ‘Politics of the Welfare State’, the School-based course ‘Social and Political Theory’, various honours courses including a compulsory course on ‘Welfare, Justice and the State’, an MSc course on ‘Law and Public Policy’ and the Graduate School course on ‘Research Design’.  I supervised a total of 30 PhD and three MPhil students.

Over time, my interests focused on a range of problems at the interface between social policy and public law, in particular the nature of administrative justice, the resolution of administrative grievances and the effectiveness of different mechanisms of dispute resolution.  Most of my research was in discrete policy areas such as educational policy, social security, penal policy and consumer credit/consumer indebtedness.

Together with Frans Pennings, University of Utrecht), I have been joint editor of the  European Journal of Social Security since its foundation in 1998.  From 2010 until its abolition in 2013, I was a member of the Scottish Committee of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) and directed two research projects (on administrative decisions where there is no right of appeal, and on the inter-relationship between appeals, complaints and reviews) for the Scottish Committee.  I continue to carry out research, to examine and to publish.


In the course of my career, I have published seven books, 13 research reports and eight edited collections of papers, and written 57 sole authored and 43 jointly authored articles and book chapters.  Listed below are a selection of the more important publications that have come out in the last five years, i.e. since 2008.


Administrative Justice in Context, Oxford; Hart Publishing, 2010 (edited).


Understanding the Differences between Appeals, Complaints and Reviews: Some empirical evidence, London: Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, 2013.

Right to Appeal: A review of decisions made by Scottish public bodies where there is no right of appeal or where the appeal procedure is inaccessible or inappropriate, London: Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, 2012.

Scrutiny and the Public: Qualitative study of public perspectives on regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling of public services in Scotland, Edinburgh: Scottish Government, 2007 (with Stewart Black, Simon Halliday, Jackie Gulland, Enid Mordaunt, and Jane MacLardie, Lorraine Murray and Kate Sewel, Ipsos MORI), available at

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

‘Stepwise Progression: The Past, Present and Possible Future of Empirical Research on Law in the US and the UK’,  Journal of Law and Society, 41(3), 2014 (forthcoming), (with Jonathan Simon).

‘Conditionality, Sanctions and the Effective Absence of Redress in the British “New Deal” Programs’, in Brodkin, Evelyn and Marston, Greg (eds.)  Work and the Welfare State: The Politics and Management of Policy Change, Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press and Copenhagen, DJØF, 2013, pp. 229-248.

‘The Rise and Fall of Administrative Justice – A Cautionary Tale’,  Socio-Legal Review, 8(2), 2012, pp. 28-54.

‘Administrative law, administrative agencies, and redress mechanisms in the UK and Sweden’, chapter 13 in Clark, David S (ed.)  Comparative Law and Society, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2012 (pp. 254-289), (with Sara Stendahl).

‘Social Security and Social Welfare’ in Cane, Peter and Kritzer, Herbert M,  Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 399-423.

‘Tribunals ain’t what they used to be’,  Adjust Newsletter, March 2009, available at

‘From Tribunal Reform to the Reform of Administrative Justice’, in Creyke, Robin (ed.)  Tribunals in the Common Law World, Annandale, NSW: The Federation Press, 2008, pp. 153-174.

‘The Justice Implications of “Activation Policies” in the UK’, in Erhag, Thomas, Stendahl, Sara and Devetzi, Stamatia (eds.)  A European Work-First Welfare State , Göteborg: University of Göteborg: Centre for European Research, 2008, pp. 95-131.

‘Justice beyond the Courts: The Implications of Computerisation for Administrative Justice in Social Security’ in Cerillo, Agustí and Fabra, Pere (eds.)  E-Justice: Information and Communication Technologies in the Court System, Herschey, PA: IGI Global Ltd., 2008, pp. 65-86 (with Paul Henman).

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