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Dr Lawrence McNamara


Dr Lawrence McNamara joined the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in May 2013. He was Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow until February 2017. Since then he has held posts jointly as a Reader in Law at the University of York and as a Senior Research Fellow at the Bingham Centre. He currently holds a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship.

Lawrence works on a range of issues relating to accountability and transparency, and has particular expertise around national security and the media. His recent and current projects include: Opening up closed judgments: Balancing Secrecy, Security and Accountability (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust); Respecting private rights, pursuing public interests: Parliamentary scrutiny of the private sector (funded by the British Academy); and work on official secrets in submissions to the Law Commission's Review of the Protection of Official Data.

He has published and presented widely in the UK and internationally. He is the author of over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, many more contributions to public debate and law reform, has presented at over 100 conferences, and provided commentary and analysis for major media outlets. His book Reputation and Defamation  (Oxford University Press 2007) has been widely reviewed and was shortlisted for the Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship.

At the heart of Lawrence's work lies a commitment to conducting and using research to shape law and policy for the public good. He has examined how legal scholarship informs UK governments, with the study published in Kings Law Journal in 2018, 'Understanding Research Impact in Law : The REF and Engagement with UK Governments '. He also the Impact Lead in the York Law School.

His own research has had significant impact on law and policy. Some examples include his work on investigatory powers, which has influenced official reviews and parliamentary debate. From 2009-13 Lawrence held an ESRC/AHRC Fellowship in Ideas and Beliefs, during which he gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and prepared numerous briefings for MPs and Peers on the Justice and Security Bill. Almost all his recommendations for amendments that would provide safeguards were debated in Parliament and some were included in the Act. This work was published by the ESRC as an impact case study. Once the legislation was in force, the Secretary of State was required to report annually on the use of closed material procedures under the Act. Lawrence's critical review and recommendations in relation to that report were taken up  and subsequent reports have been more detailed, resulting in a much greater degree of transparency and accountability.

Prior to joining the Bingham Centre Lawrence was an academic in School of Law at the University of Reading and, before that, in Australia at Macquarie University and the University of Western Sydney. He has held adjunct and visiting posts at several universities in Australia and the United States.


Dr Lawrence McNamara

Senior Research Fellow in the Rule of Law and Director for Research

+44(0)20 7862 5437

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