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Professor Judith Masson

Professor Judith Masson

Professor Judith Masson
B.A.(Cantab.), M.A.(Cantab), Ph.D.(Leic.)

Emeritus Professor

Office 3.43
Wills Memorial Building,
Queens Road, Clifton BS8 1RJ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 5304


Chilld Law and Family Law

My research focuses on child protection systems, particularly the interaction between law and social work, and local authorities and courts, empirically using quantiative and qualitative methods and through contextual socio-legal analysis.  I have undertaken major empirical studies on  emergency intervention in child protection; care proceedings, including legal aid costs; parental representation in care proceedings;  the operation and impact of the pre-proceedings process for care proceedings; and the reforms to care proceedings and their impact on children's outcomes.   My empirical research uses mixed methods, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches and has included ethnography, action research and data linkage with the main databases for children's social care. In addition I undertake doctrinal analysis of child law and its development nationally and internationally. I am currntly working on a study of Dicharge of Care Orders, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. 


Judith Masson studied at Cambridge and Leicester Universities in England, and at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA. Between 1991 and 2005, she was Professor of Law at Warwick University, specialising in child law and socio-legal research. She joined the University of Bristol as Professor of Socio-Legal Studies in January 2006. She teaches Family Law and International Child Law.

Judith combines legal expertise, particularly doctrinal analysis in child law with empirical work on child and family law; her empirical work uses mixed methods, quantitative and qualitative of litigation and other legal documents. For the last 15 years Judith’s empirical work has focused on child protection, with studies of children’s guardians and the legal representation of children (J. Masson and M. Winn Oakley, Out of Hearing, Wiley 1999); family relationships for children in long term care (J. Masson et al, Lost and found, Ashgate, 1999); emergency intervention by the police and local authority children’s services in two studies funded by the NSPCC and the Nuffield Foundation, J. Masson et al, Protecting Powers, Wiley, 2007); a study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Children, Schools and Families, J Masson et al Care Profiling Study MoJ 2008); an ESRC funded study jointly with Julia Pearce on Parents’ legal representation in care proceedings, J Pearce, J Masson and K. Bader, Just Following Instructions? 2011); and an ESRC funded study with Dr Jonathan Dickens, School of Social Work, University of East Anglia, Families on the Edge of Care proceedings:  the operation and effectiveness  of the pre-proceedings process in care proceedings to be published in 2013. Judith is currently working on a project for the Family Justice Council on providing feedback to judges about their decisions in public law cases.

Judith is an expert on the Children Act 1989 and on Adoption Law. She is co-author, with Professor Rebecca Bailey-Harris and Rebecca Probert, of a leading text, Cretney's Principles of Family Law (8th ed 2008), writing the child law section of the book. Whilst her current work focuses on children she has previously undertaken doctrine, policy related and empirical work on family property, particularly pension rights and inheritance: (J. Freedman et al, Property and Marriage, Institute for Fiscal Studies, 1986); inheritance practices (J. Finch et al, Wills, Inheritance and the Family  OUP 1996).

Judith has always sought to ensure that those in practice as lawyers or social workers can benefit from the insights developed through her research. She has acted as an advisor to Voice for the Child in Care and Women's Aid; a consultant for the Department of Health, Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Department for Education and the Legal Services Commission, Coram and various local authorities. She has been a specialist advisor to Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiries into the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (2003) and the Family Justice System (2011); and served on the Judicial Studies Board and as the academic member of the Family Justice Council (2004-2011).

Judith is also member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Children's Services and Child Abuse Review and a regular reviewer for journals including Child and Family Law Quarterly, Journal of Law and Society, Child and Family Social Work and Adoption and Fostering.


Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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