Lay judges and jury members in criminal trials; activists establishing so-called “people’s” or “citizen’s” tribunals, or proponents of alternative law - most of them are not legal experts with state-sanctioned competences. And yet, they all practice law, contribute to its production and development.
Laypersons can indirectly contribute to law-making and legal practices when they use and refer to legal concepts in their professional or private life, or when they oppose them. For instance, regulation of complex challenges such as climate change and sustainable development involve diverse stakeholders and institutions.
In contrast, socio-legal research on law conceptualizes norms and acts mostly in the context of legal experts and legal institutions, including parliament, courts, tribunals and international organizations. Today, we know very little about the role of laypersons for practices in legal systems.
This international conference addresses this knowledge gap. It looks systematically into the role of non-professionals in law from a socio-legal perspective. The aim of the interdisciplinary conference is to question existing assumptions about the social character of law both theoretically and empirically, and contribute to new thoughts on the issue.