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Visiting Scholars

Dr Nigel Balmer

Nigel is Reader in Law and Social Statistics at UCL. He is also Head of Data, Design and Analysis at PPL and an independent researcher and consultant. He is a leading expert in empirical legal studies, with particular expertise in statistical analysis and empirical research methodology. He is also co-director of the Centre for Empirical Legal Studies at UCL. He works across a broad range of projects (spanning civil and criminal justice) though he has specific interest in the application of social science and modern quantitative methods to explore how the public understand and interact with the law. All of his research is multidisciplinary and collaborative, including a number of projects with Legal Innovation Centre Director Dr Catrina Denvir, with a specific focus on methodological innovation and rigour. His work adapts methods from a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, epidemiology, education, health, mathematics and statistics. Nigel has published over 100 academic papers, reports, book chapters and books, including research in leading journals in law, social policy, epidemiology, geography and health. Much of his research is designed for a policy audience and his survey work (in collaboration with Professor Pascoe Pleasence) has become central to the development of access to justice policy.

Chris McCabe

Chris is Head of Software Engineering at Neurovalens, one of Europe's leading developers of new technologies in the field of neuroscience. Chris previously led technology development at AuditComply as CTO/Lead Architect & Engineer. He has been developing software for over 15 years, and has extensive experience in start-up environments. Chris has a first class Masters Degree in Computer Science from the Queen's University Belfast where he graduated top of his class, completing a thesis entitled "An OpenCL implementation of multi-precision arithmetic". He is a recipient of the prestigious HP Autonomy Prize and the Dell High Performance Computing prize. An expert in a wide range of technologies, languages, databases and systems, Chris also enjoys playing and developing games. He takes an active role in mentoring others in game design and development and has been responsible for the creation of a popular series of game programming tutorials on YouTube. Chris enjoys helping people understand 'how to think like a programmer' and brings his expertise to bear in the design and delivery of the Centre's coding curriculum as visiting lecturer.

Alex Smith

Alex is Reed Smith LLP's first Innovation Manager leading the Innovation Hub programme. He heads up a physical and virtual programme of client-centric ideas-generation and rethinking of legal service design. Alex has two decades of experience interacting with lawyers in law firms and in-house teams to design new products and technologies, primarily as Innovation & New Product Lead at LexisNexis. Alex has delivered projects across the legal product, service delivery and client insight spectrum. He has run a customer discovery programme by interviewing and co-creating concepts with the in-house legal community in the UK. He has built legal products using big data, artificial intelligence and search technologies. Alex’s passion is around the delivery of big linked data and in this context he has been involved in the creation of knowledge graphs of UK and Australian legal systems with billion of data connections. He is a service design expert and has now run various designed sessions for Reed Smith’s clients looking at process and automation improvements to legal service delivery. He is regularly asked to speak at public events, where he offers pragmatic insight into the application of new technologies to the legal industry.

Ann Thanaraj

Ann is a practicing academic of twelve years and Head of Law, Criminology and Social Sciences at the University of Cumbria. She is a leading expert in legal pedagogy and an advocate of integrating technology within the legal curriculum. Her teaching strives to  create an educational environment which equips students for the fluid, dynamic and global world of work by ensuring they are exposed to the realities of real-world practice and the digitalisation of professional work. Her efforts have led to the development of an innovative Virtual Clinic - an online environment that exposes students to legal practice management and case management.  Underpinned by a curriculum on ‘Lawyering in a Digital Age’, the virtual clinic provides training for students on the emerging trends in the delivery of legal services and is a pre-requisite to participation in clinical programmes at the University of Cumbria. Ann is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a visiting academic at Dalian University in China (2016) and Philipps-Universit√§t Marburg in Germany (2012). Her experience in academic leadership and research has led to national and international  speaking invitations and external advisory and consultancy work at various universities nationally.