UCL professor appointed first Dean of Inner Temple in its 700-year history

UCL Laws Professor Cheryl Thomas QC (Hon) has been appointed the first ever Dean of Education at Inner Temple, to help drive educational innovation and facilitate knowledge exchange.

It is the first time in its 700-year history that an Inn of Court has appointed a Dean, reflecting Inner Temple’s progressive approach and commitment to lifelong learning for barristers.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court – the professional associations for barristers and judges in England and Wales. Among its many functions is to call people to the Bar and provide education and training for barristers.

Professor Thomas has conducted ground-breaking research in the UK and other jurisdictions on courts, judges and juries, and is the country’s leading expert. She has developed innovative educational tools for use in courts and has extensive experience training judges and lawyers in the UK and abroad.

She will advise and assist the Inner Temple in developing new courses and activities for established members of the profession. The partnership will also see the introduction of new learning technologies for the Inn’s educational and training activities and implementation of new training requirements introduced by the Bar Standards Board.

The appointment represents a new era of collaboration between the legal profession and UCL and an exciting opportunity to exchange knowledge and practice in law between the two institutions for the benefit of wider society.

On her appointment, Professor Thomas said: “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be appointed Dean of Inner Temple.  The decision to appoint a Dean for the first time in the Inns of Court’s almost 700-year history reflects Inner Temple’s forward-looking approach to life at bar in the 21st century.

“I have been fortunate to have already worked closely with Inner Temple as a member of the Education and Training Committee and most recently to help with a major redevelopment of Inner Temple’s ethics training for new practitioners.  I’m looking forward to helping forge stronger links between the Bar and academia and in raising public awareness of the crucial role the Bar plays in ensuring the rule of law.”

 Professor Thomas will continue in her post at UCL as Professor of Judicial Studies and Director of the UCL Jury Project and UCL Judicial Institute, dividing her time between the two institutions.

Welcoming Professor Thomas to the position, Lord Anthony Hughes of Ombersley, Treasurer of the Inner Temple, said: “The Inner Temple must remain relevant to the profession and the community it serves. The appointment of Professor Thomas, one of the country’s leading academics on law and the courts, will ensure that the Inn provides ever more useful training to members throughout their career, helping to ensure that the profession is equipped to meet the demands of the future.”

In order to explore what options were available for growing existing links with Inner Temple, Professor Thomas worked closely with UCL Innovation & Enterprise and UCL Vice-Provost (Enterprise), Dr Celia Caulcott.

UCL Innovation & Enterprise helps to facilitate links between academic departments and businesses, charities and other external organisations to empower social, technological and economic impact.

Dr Caulcott said: “The UCL community is home to some of the world’s leading thinkers in many different sectors, from the neuroscience of memory to the intricacies of Article 50. This knowledge can be of great benefit to many professional sectors, including the Bar, which need to stay ahead of the curve and incorporate the latest thinking from many different sectors for the benefit of the communities they serve.

“We believe this partnership with Inner Temple can provide a model for collaboration between academia and the professions going forward.”

Biography of Professor Cheryl Thomas QC (Hon)

 Professor Cheryl Thomas QC (Hon) is Professor of Judicial Studies in the UCL Faculty of Laws.  This is the first Chair in Judicial Studies in the United Kingdom.  She is also Director of the UCL Jury Project and Co-Director of the UCL Judicial Institute.  Professor Thomas has served as a specialist consultant on judicial affairs to a wide range of official bodies including the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Chancellor, UK Ministry of Justice, Judicial College, Law Commission, Crown Prosecution Service, the Judiciaries of Scotland and Northern Ireland, European Commission and other international organisations and governments.  In 2012 she was elected Honorary Master of the Bench of Inner Temple.  In 2017 she was appointed Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causa.  She is also a documentary maker and has produced programmes for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Discovery and PSB.  Professor Thomas holds a D.Phil. and M.Phil. from Oxford University and BA from Syracuse University.

Professor Thomas is the country’s leading expert on courts, judges and juries and has pioneered the empirical study of the judiciary in the UK.  She has conducted ground-breaking research on judges, juries, the role of diversity in the justice system and the appointment and training of judges. Professor Thomas has pioneered the study of jury decision-making in the criminal courts this country, using an innovative approach that combines large-scale analysis of actual jury verdicts, post-verdict interviews with jurors and case simulation with real jurors at Crown Courts. Her research with real jurors at court has tackled sensitive and controversial issues about the representative nature of juries and jury decision-making for the first time in this country (Diversity & Fairness in the Jury System 2007; Are Juries Fair? 2010).  She has also led path-breaking research on the professional judiciary, including instituting the UK Judicial Attitude Survey 2014 and 2016, a longitudinal study of the working lives of judges conducted on behalf of the judiciaries of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; created the UK Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Database Project and a foundational empirical study of tribunal decision-making.

Her current jury research examines the impact of the digital courtroom, the impact of special measures for vulnerable witnesses, whether jurors believe myths and stereotypes in some cases, how to prevent juror misconduct, how to improve jury deliberations and how best to provide support for jurors during and after trial.

Professor Thomas offers the only LLM course in this country on understanding what judges actually do when they decide cases and the crucial role judges and courts play in democracies.  She also provides courses in law to non-law undergraduate and graduate students in other UCL faculties.

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