Professor Lauren Devine

Ph.D., Professor of Language and Law

    • United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    I welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students. Enquiries are particularly welcome in relation to projects that consider the complexity of language and/or law in safeguarding and child protection, and projects that use corpus or computational linguistics methods.

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    Personal profile

    Contact Details


    Telephone: +44 (0) 121 204 3789

    Room: N918A


    LL.B.(Hons), LL.M, M.A., Ph.D., Barrister, P.G.Cert.H.E.

    Inns of Court School of Law Bar Finals

    University of Birmingham Ph.D (Law)

    University of Birmingham   M.A. (Research Methods)

    University of Bristol LL.M

    University of the West of England LL.B. (Hons)

    University of the West of England PG Cert HE

    Research Interests

    Funding Applications and Awards

    I have led/co-led research projects in excess of £1m.  My work has been funded by Research England, The Economic and Social Research Council and the Nuffield Foundation.

    Key research projects

    Programme Lead: Seed projects (Research England, expanding excellence in England (E3) grant, £45,500). 2022-2023.  The Centre for Language and Law’s suite of ten seed-funded projects developing small, specialised corpora to interrogate aspects of individual, corporate, and state vulnerability.

    Principal Investigator: Illegitimate Discourses (Research England, expanding excellence in England (E3) grant, £20,610). 2022-2023.  The project creates and analyses a specialised corpus of peer-reviewed literature published between 1909-1968 in the Eugenics Review

    Co-Investigator: The Risk of Risk (Economic and Social Research Council grant number ES/R00983X/2 £250,000). 2022-2024.  The project considers the probity of risk assessment in cases of suspected child abuse, evaluating the accuracy of algorithmic risk prediction tools.

    Principal Investigator: The Care Cases Crisis (Part 2: evidencing) (The Nuffield Foundation, grant number JUS/ £124,000). 2023-2025. The project evidences the findings of Part 1, conducting a large sample evaluation of case files.

    Principal Investigator: Mind your Language (Research England, expanding excellence in England (E3) grant £60,000). The project explores the feasibility of developing a corpus approach to written expert psychologists’ reports in the Family Justice System.  A pilot specialised corpus of reports from a random sample of a ten-year database of reports was created and analysed.

    Principal Investigator: The Care Cases Crisis (Part 1: theorising) (The Nuffield Foundation, grant number JUS/43090 £350,544). 2017-2022.  The project evaluates the systemic reasons for the increases in child removals despite the government’s measures to reduce child abuse. 

    Principal Investigator: Lighting the touchpaper (Commissioned report for the Ministry of Justice). 2016-2017. The report was commissioned to consider the implications for the MoJ’s digitisation agenda of introducing online safeguarding reporting between separating parents during private law proceedings.

    Principal Investigator: Solutions for Safeguarding (HEFCE/UNLtd  start-up grant £3,000) 2015-2016. Designed to develop an impact case study, ‘Solutions’ works to facilitate better outcomes across child and adult social care. 

    Principal Investigator: Rethinking Child Protection Strategy (Economic and Social Research Council grant number ES/M000990/1 £202,487). 2014-2016. This project evaluated the evidence base for child protection and safeguarding strategy and policy in England, meeting the criteria of ‘genuinely transformative research at the frontiers of social science’. 

    Co-Investigator and Consultant: Crime Scene to Court in Virtual Worlds (Teaching and Learning Fellowship Grant £11,400). 2012-2014.  Featured by the BBC in 2016, the project developed a virtual learning environment crime scene and courtroom for forensic experts.

    Principal Investigator: Safer Children? (Early Career Researcher Grant £15,224). 2012-2013. This project evaluated how online safeguarding training in schools translated into child protection referrals, evaluating effectiveness and outcomes. 

    Membership of Professional Bodies

    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    Barrister of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

    Available PhD Studentships

    Funded Ph.D Studentship are available each year in the College.  I invite applications in law and/or linguistics (particularly corpus linguistics) applied to any area of child protection, safeguarding and the Family Justice System.

    PhD Supervision

    Melanie Clinton: Corpus analysis of aspects of the family justice system.

    Madeleine Palmer: The Practical Applications of Threatening Communications and Statutory Interpretation: A Corpus Analysis to Demarcate Legal and Illegal Threats

    Media Contributions

    I am an experienced, invited media commentator with significant experience of working with the press, TV and radio.  I and have completed the Economic and Social Research Council's media training.  I have appeared on Channel 4 News, the BBC (local and national TV and radio), the Big Questions, the Victoria Derbyshire Show and my work has featured in the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph and in professional publications such as 'Community Care' and 'Professional Social Work'.  I am also an experienced media consultant, advising on programme content and structure.


    Director Centre for Language and Law, Deputy Director Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics,

    Education/Academic qualification

    MA, Lancaster University

    31 Oct 202130 Sep 2023


    • K Law (General)
    • Corpus Linguistics
    • (Critical) Discourse Analysis
    • Computer Science
    • Family Justice Studies
    • Child Protection
    • Safeguarding (child and adult)
    • HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
    • BJ Ethics


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