Kent Law School

Critical perspectives research led teaching


profile image for  Rosemary Hunter

Rosemary Hunter

Professor of Law

Kent Law School


Rosemary joined Kent Law School in September 2006, having previously taught at the University of Melbourne (1990-1997) and Griffith University (2000-2006) in Australia. During 1998-99. She worked as a Principal Researcher for the Justice Research Centre, part of the then Law Foundation of NSW. At Griffith she was Director of the Law School's Socio-Legal Research Centre (2000-2002) and then Dean (2003-2004).

Research Areas: Gender and Sexuality, Law, Politics and Culture


Rosemary's major area of research interest is in feminist legal scholarship. Within that, she has done work in family law, access to justice, domestic violence, women's employment (including women in the legal profession and women judges), anti-discrimination law, and dispute resolution. She is particularly interested in the interface between law and society, and people's encounters with the legal system. Much of her recent work has taken an empirical approach, or has sought to build feminist legal theory from empirical data.

Major research project

Rosemary's current major research project is the Feminist Judgments Project, which is a unique, imaginative collaboration in which a group of feminist socio-legal scholars have written alternative feminist judgments in significant legal cases. The project was funded by the ESRC. Further information can be found on the project website. She is also looking more generally at the practice of feminist judging.

Rosemary is also working on Mapping Paths to Family Justice, a 3 year project that will investigate three different forms of out-of-court family dispute resolution: solicitor negotiations, mediation and collaborative law.  The project seeks to provide an evidence base to inform future decisions by policy-makers, funders, practitioners and disputing couples.  It will focus on how widely each process is actually used and how embedded it has become in the public mind as a means of resolving family disputes; how positive or negative people’s experiences of the different processes have been in the short and longer term; what norms of family dispute resolution are embedded in the different alternatives; and whether particular alternatives are more or less appropriate for particular kinds of cases or parties.

Findings will be disseminated through the project website, an end-of-project conference, and a range of published material. 

Access the project website here.

Other recent projects include a study on fact-finding hearings in family law cases involving allegations of domestic violence, undertaken for the Family Justice Council.

Some examples of Rosemary's media appearances are here.

back to top


Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

    Gaze, Beth and Hunter, Rosemary (2010) Enforcing Human Rights in Australia: An Evaluation of the New Regime. Themis Press, Sydney, 298 pp. ISBN 9781921113048.


    Published in association with the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW this major study breaks new ground in exploring the effectiveness and accessibility of procedures for protecting the rights of individuals to equality and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and disability. The enforcement of Australian federal anti-discrimination laws has encountered constitutional limitations. Because federal tribunals are unable to make binding decisions, in 2000 enforcement of federal discrimination matters was moved from a tribunal (the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) to the federal courts. The study examines how the move from a specialist tribunal to the federal courts affected enforcement of federal anti-discrimination law. Drawing on statistical data, analysis of reported cases and interviews with parties and their advisors under both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ systems, it investigates the impact of the change in terms of: • specialist versus generalist decision-making • relatively informal versus formal procedures • a regime in which each party bears their own costs versus one in which the loser pays the winner’s costs The study traces the impact of these changes on the decisions made by complainants about whether (and where) to bring a complaint, whether to settle their cases or proceed to litigation, and on decisions made by respondents about whether to defend or settle a case. The enforcement process in federal discrimination matters was found to erect significant barriers to individuals seeking to pursue their claims in this area.


    This study investigates the ways in which women’s experiences of domestic violence are heard and understood in civil court settings, and examines women’s experiences of telling their stories (or at least attempting to do so) in those settings. The two areas on which the study focuses are intervention order proceedings in State Magistrates’ Courts, and residence, contact, and property matters in the federal Family Court in Australia. The relevant legislation in the two jurisdictions is either partly or wholly a product of feminist legal activism. The study, therefore, seeks to determine whether the feminist claim that the criminal law silences women also pertains in the context of new civil claims specifically designed to respond to women’s experiences.


    Hunter, Rosemary and Barnett, Adrienne (2013) Fact-Finding Hearings and the Implementation of Practice Direction 12J. Family Law, 43. pp. 431-437. ISSN 0014-7281.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2012) The Power of Feminist Judgments? Feminist Legal Studies, 20 (2). pp. 135-148. ISSN 0966-3622.


    Recent years have seen the advent of two feminist judgment-writing projects, the Women’s Court of Canada, and the Feminist Judgments Project in England. This article analyses these projects in light of Carol Smart’s feminist critique of law and legal reform and her proposed feminist strategies in Feminism and the Power of Law (1989). At the same time, it reflects on Smart’s arguments 20 years after their first publication and considers the extent to which feminist judgment-writing projects may reinforce or trouble her conclusions. It argues that both of these results are discernible—that while some of Smart’s contentions have proved to be unsustainable, others remain salient and have both inspired and hold important cautions for feminist judgment-writing projects.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2012) Feminist Judgments as Teaching Resources. Onati Socio-Legal Series, 2 (5). pp. 47-62. ISSN 2079-5971.


    This paper discusses feminist judgments as a specific vehicle for teaching students to think critically about law. The analysis of appellate judgments forms a central plank of Anglo-Commonwealth and US jurisprudence and legal education. While academic scholarship generally offers various forms of commentary on decided cases, feminist judgment-writing projects have recently embarked on a new form of critical scholarship. Rather than critiquing judgments from a feminist perspective in academic essays, the participants in these projects have set out instead to write alternative judgments, as if they had been one of the judges sitting on the court at the time. After introducing the UK Feminist Judgments Project and describing what is ‘different’ about the judgments it has produced, the paper explains some of the ways in which these judgments have been used in UK law schools to teach critical thinking. The paper finally speculates on the potential production and application of feminist judgments or their equivalents beyond the common law context.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2012) Introduction: Feminist Judgments as Teaching Resources. Law Teacher, 46 (3). pp. 214-226. ISSN 0303-9400.


    While academic scholarship generally offers various forms of commentary on decided cases, feminist judgment-writing projects have recently embarked on a new form of critical scholarship. Rather than critiquing judgments from a feminist perspective in academic essays, the participants in these projects have set out instead to write alternative judgments, as if they had been one of the judges sitting in court at the time. After introducing the UK Feminist Judgments Project and describing what is “different” about the judgments it has produced, the paper explains some of the ways in which these judgments have been used as teaching resources in UK law schools. The paper goes on to introduce the following four articles in this issue of the Law Teacher, which illustrate in greater detail particular pedagogical uses of the Feminist Judgments Project.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2011) Doing Violence to Family Law. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 33 (4). pp. 343-359. ISSN 0964-9069.


    This article discusses the nature and implications of the proposed Legal Aid cuts in family law cases raising issues of domestic abuse. It outlines the proposed inclusions within and removals from the scope of Legal Aid for private family law proceedings set out in the Green Paper, Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales, charts the progress of the proposals from the Green Paper to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2011, and considers their likely impacts on women and children affected by domestic abuse. It also considers the potential interaction between the Legal Aid reforms and the Family Justice Review, and suggests desirable amendments to both.

    Gaze, Beth and Hunter, Rosemary (2009) Access to Justice for Discrimination Complainants: Courts and Legal Representation. UNSW Law Journal, 32. pp. 699-724. ISSN ISSN0313-0096..

    De Simone, Tracey and Hunter, Rosemary (2009) Causes of Inaction: Barriers to Accessing Legal Aid Serivces. Alternative Law Journal, 34. pp. 265-269. ISSN 1037-969X.


    This article explores the ways that social welfare organisations can unconsciously exclude their clients. It draws from research undertaken by the authors on the barriers to accessing legal aid services by women and looks particularly at the application process, the client’s dealings with the agency, the refusal process and the consequences of not having legal aid.

    Hunter, Rosemary and De Simone, Tracey (2009) Women, Legal Aid and Social Inclusion. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 44 (4). pp. 379-398.


    This article examines access to legal aid for women in light of the Australian government’s social inclusion agenda. It is notable that the government’s image of social citizenship does not include the ability to invoke and enforce legal rights, and that discourses of social exclusion have paid relatively little attention to gendered patterns of exclusion. The article reports on a study of applications for and refusals of legal aid for family law, domestic violence and anti?discrimination matters by socially excluded women in Queensland. It demonstrates the variety of ways in which Legal Aid Queensland’s grants process operated to further exclude and marginalise these women. It argues that effective access to legal aid is an important element of social inclusion, but that this goal cannot be achieved by reliance on the tools of New Public Management.

    Grabham, Emily and Hunter, Rosemary (2008) Encountering Human Rights: Gender/Sexuality, Activism and the Promise of Law. Feminist Legal Studies, 16 Special Issue (1). pp. 1-7. ISSN 0966-3622.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2008) Would You Like Theory With That? Bridging the Divide Between Policy-Oriented Empirical Legal Research, Critical Theory and Politics. Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, 41. pp. 121-148. ISSN 1059-4337.


    In response to the divides identified by some UK writers between critical legal scholarship, left political agendas, and empirical, policy-driven, socio-legal research, and indications of similar divides in the US, this essay seeks to demonstrate the possibilities for work that negotiates between progressive political commitments, social and political theory, policy concerns, and social scientific approaches to the interface between law and society. It does so by reference to three case studies of critical, feminist socio-legal scholarship, which address policy issues in the areas of family law, the legal profession, and access to justice.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2008) Can Feminist Judges Make a Difference? International Journal of the Legal Profession, 15 (1&2). pp. 7-36. ISSN 0969-5958.


    Many of the expectations and aspirations about the ‘difference’ that women judges would make have proved unrealistic, given the inevitable diversity and often conservatism of women appointed as judges. On the other hand, we might reasonably expect feminist judges to ‘make a difference’. This essay focuses on feminist judges, and seeks to identify what it is that we might reasonably expect of them. This in turn requires consideration of who counts as a feminist judge, what might be included in a feminist approach to judging, and what institutional norms inherent within the judicial role might constrain the adoption of a feminist approach. The essay concludes that feminist judges both can and ought to make a difference across a wide range of judicial activities.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2008) A Conversation with Baroness Hale. Feminist Legal Studies, 16. ISSN 0966-3622.

Book Sections

    Hunter, Rosemary (2013) The Gendered “Socio” of Socio-Legal Studies. In: Feenan, D Exploring the ‘Socio’ of Socio-Legal Studies. Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 205-227. ISBN 9780230337183.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2013) Justice Marcia Neave: Case Study of a Feminist Judge. In: Schultz, Ulrike and Shaw, Gisela Gender and Judging. Onati International Series in Law and Society. Hart Publishing, Oxford, pp. 399-418. ISBN 9781841136400.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2013) Contesting the Dominant Paradigm: Feminist Critiques of Liberal Legalism. In: Davies, Margaret and Munro, Vanessa The Ashgate Research Companion to Feminist Legal Theory. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 13-30. ISBN 9781409418597.


    The concept of ‘liberal legalism’ refers to a set of assumptions found within law in societies and regimes (such as the international legal order) in which liberalism is the dominant political philosophy. These assumptions broadly concern: (a) the nature of the legal person; and (b) the role of law. This chapter will provide an account of both of these aspects of liberal legalism, and the feminist critiques to which they have been subject. Feminist critiques have been mounted from a variety of positions, ranging from liberal feminists challenging law to live up to its promises, to radical and postmodern feminists who, for different reasons, trenchantly reject the validity of the assumptions of liberal legalism. The chapter focuses on feminist critiques of liberal legalism rather than on internal debates within feminism, although these debates are evident in the different diagnoses of and responses to the perceived problems of liberal legalism.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2011) Constructing Vulnerabilities and Managing Risk: State Responses to Forced Marriage. In: FitzGerald, S.A. Regulating the International Movement of Women: From Protection to Control. Routledge-Cavendish, Abingdon, pp. 11-28. ISBN 9780415579490.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2011) (De-)Sexing the Woman Lawyer. In: Jones, Jackie and Grear, Anna and Fenton, Rachel Anne et al. Gender, Sexualities and Law. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 26-38. ISBN 9780415574396.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2010) An Account of Feminist Judging. In: Hunter, Rosemary and McGlynn, Clare and Rackley, Erika Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice. Hart Publishing, Oxford, pp. 30-43. ISBN 9781849460538.

    Hunter, Rosemary and McGlynn, Clare and Rackley, Erika (2010) Feminist Judgments: An Introduction. In: Hunter, Rosemary and McGlynn, Clare and Rackley, Erika Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice. Hart Publishing, Oxford, pp. 3-29. ISBN 9781849460538.

    Hunter, Rosemary and Banks, Cate and Giddings, Jeff (2009) Australian Innovations in Legal Aid Services: Lessons from an Evaluation Study. In: Buck, Alexy and Pleasence, Pascoe and Balmer, Nigel J. Reaching Further: Innovation, Access and Quality in Legal Services. TSO, London, pp. 7-25. ISBN 9780117067240.

    Hunter, Rosemary (2008) Alternatives to Equality. In: Hunter, Rosemary Rethinking Equality Projects in Law: Feminist Challenges. Onati International Series in Law & Society. Hart Publishing, Oxford, pp. 81-101. ISBN 1841138398.

    Hunter, Rosemary and De Simone, Tracey (2008) Identifying Disadvantage - Beyond Intersectionality. In: Grabham, Emily and Herman, Didi and Cooper, Davina et al. Intersectionality and Beyond: Law, Power and the Politics of Location. Routledge Cavendish, pp. 159-182. ISBN 9780415432436.

Edited Books
Total publications in KAR: 79 [See all in KAR]
back to top

Undergraduate modules

  • Family and the Law (LW505)
  • Law in Action (LW608)


Rosemary is happy to supervise research students in the areas of family law (including family dispute resolution), access to justice, domestic violence, gender issues in the legal profession or in judging and empirical legal and/or law and society research more broadly.

back to top

Editorial Work

  • feminists@law - Founding Editor
  • Onati International Series in the Sociology of Law - General Editor
  • Feminist Legal Studies - Member of Editorial board
  • International Journal of Discrimination and the Law - Member of Editorial Board
  • Law, Culture and the Humanities - Member of Editorial Advisory Board
  • Australian Feminist Law Journal - Member of Advisory Board
  • Studies on Women and Gender Abstracts – Member of Editorial Board

Professional Societies

  • Socio-Legal Studies Association - Member of Executive Committee
  • Research Committee on Sociology of Law
  • International Network for Law and Feminist Theory
  • Law and Society Association
  • International Sociological Association
  • Society of Legal Scholars

Further Information

feminists@law is a new, online, open access journal of feminist legal scholarship. Visit the website here.

Rosemary is also a member of the Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality at the University of Kent. For information on Centre activities, please see here.

back to top

Back to Staff Index

Kent Law School - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 827636

Last Updated: 11/06/2013