Professor Margaret Thornton FASSA, FAAL

Professor
BA(Hons) Syd; LLB (UNSW); LLM (Yale); Barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW & the High Court of Australia
+61 2 6125 8363
04 2571 2830
Room 243

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Biography

Professor Margaret Thornton is a socio-legal and feminist scholar whose work on the legal academy and the legal profession is internationally recognised. She is regularly invited to participate in international projects.

She has published extensively in the area of discrimination and the law. Her book The Liberal Promise (Oxford, 1990) remains the only critical study of discrimination law in Australia. Her book, Dissonance and Distrust (Oxford 1996) is the only study of women in the legal profession in Australia. It was translated into Mandarin and published in Beijing (Law Press, 2001).

Margaret also has a particular interest in the impact of the corporatisation of universities on the legal academy and has conducted research in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, as well as Australia. Publications from this research include Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law (Routledge, 2012). Her current ARC-funded research focuses on work/life balance in corporate law firms, particularly the gendered effects of globalisation, competition and technology.

Margaret’s scholarship has been acknowledged by election to the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the invitation to be a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and the award of an ARC Professorial Fellowship, in additional to international fellowships.

Margaret formerly held the Richard McGarvie Chair of Socio-Legal studies at La Trobe University where she also served as Head of School, Director of Research and Professorial Member of University Council. She served the discipline of law as a member of the ARC and as Chair of the Federal Government Advisory Committee for the Gender Issues in the Law Curriculum Project, as well as occupying many other federal and State positions.

Appointments

  • 2012: ANU Public Policy Fellow

Significant research publications

  • Thornton, The Liberal Promise: Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990
  • Thornton, Dissonance and Distrust: Women in the Legal Profession, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1996 (Chinese edn, Law Press, Beijing, 2001)
  • Thornton, Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, 2012
  • Thornton (ed) Public and Private: Feminist Legal Debates, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995
  • Thornton (ed), Romancing the Tomes: Popular Culture, Law and Feminism, Cavendish, London, 2002
  • Thornton (ed), Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2010 http://epress.anu.edu.au/discrimination_citation.html
  • Thornton (ed), Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences look at the Neoliberal University (ed), ANU Press, Canberra, 2015: http://press.anu.edu.au?p=304001
  • Ron Levy, Molly O’Brien, Pauline Ridge, Simon Rice & Margaret Thornton (eds), New Directions for Law in Australia, ANU Press, Canberra, 2017: http://press.anu.edu.au/node/2641/download  

Recent news

28
Nov
2018
Professor Margaret Thornton stands outside and is wearing a green top
The pros and cons of flexible work for lawyers
29
Nov
2017
Senator Cory Bernardi
Abortion is still a criminal act in two of Australia's most populous states, NSW and Queensland.  This fact remains mostly undiscussed, perhaps in nervous belief that poor law - kept quiet - is better than forcing open debate which might result in tougher, emphatic law. Professor Margaret Thornton writes.
19
Apr
2017
Statue of blindfolded Lady Justice
Giving birth is like "buying a bag of chips" - or at least that's what one male judge suggested. Law Professor Margaret Thornton raises important questions about the absence of transparency in federal judiciary appointments, and shows why transparency is crucial for gender justice.
13
Feb
2017
Dorota Gozdecka
An international law researcher at The Australian National University (ANU) believes US President Donald Trump's executive order into travel restrictions will likely end up before the US Supreme Court, where it could be a win-win situation for President Trump.

In the Media

5
Nov
2018
Margaret Thornton interviewed by Policy Forum Pod
22
Mar
2017
Margaret Thornton speaks to News.com.au
4
Nov
2015
Margaret Thornton writes in The Conversation

Past events

05
Dec
2018
Margaret Thornton
5.30PM to 6.30PM Public lecture
  • Professor Margaret Thornton, ANU College of Law FASSA, FAAL

Uber and Airbnb signify new ways of working and doing business by facilitating direct access to providers through new digitalised platforms.

19
Sep
2018
RBG
7.30PM to 10.30PM Film screening
  • Professor Margaret Thornton, ANU College of Law
  • Dr Heather Roberts, ANU College of Law
  • Prue Bindon, Barrister

RBG, a documentary directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, explores the career, legal legacy and life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court.

16
Apr
2018
Academic culture
6.30PM to 7.30PM Panel discussion
  • Professor Margaret Thornton, ANU College of Law

What's happened to academic freedom at universities? Have universities become too corporatised? What's the point of universities anyway?

18
Oct
2017
Law in the pub
7.00PM to 9.00PM Discussion
  • Professor Margaret Thornton
  • Anne Macduff
  • Professor Desmond Manderson
  • Justine Poon
  • Dr Dorota Gozdecka

Questions of migration and citizenship have become so prominent that not a week passes without a new heated legal controversy surrounding the regulation of the lives of migrants.

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.

Research biography

Professor Margaret Thornton is a socio-legal and feminist scholar whose work on the legal academy and the legal profession is internationally recognised. She is regularly invited to participate in international projects in these areas.

Margaret’s scholarship has been acknowledged by election to the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the invitation to be a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, inclusion as a ‘Trailblazing Woman in Law’ in the Oral History Project of the Australian National Library (led by Professor Kim Rubenstein), and the award of an ARC Professorial Fellowship.

She has published extensively in the area of discrimination and the law and the 25th anniversary of her book, The Liberal Promise (Oxford, 1990), is being celebrated in 2015.

Margaret also has a particular interest in the impact of the corporatisation of universities on the legal academy and has conducted research in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, as well as Australia. Publications from this research include Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law (Routledge, 2012). Her current ARC-funded research focuses on work/life balance in corporate law firms, particularly the gendered effects of globalisation, competition and technology.

Grants

  • ARC Discovery Project 2012-2018: 'Balancing Law and Life'

  • (with Glenn Withers) ASSA Workshop 2012-13: ‘Markets and the Modern University’

  • ARC Professorial Fellowship 2006-2012: 'EEO in a Culture of Uncertainty'

  • (with Prof Beth Gaze) ASSA Workshop 2007: ‘The Future of Discrimination Law in Australia’ 

  • (with Prof Charles Sampford & 28 ors) ARC Research Centre 2005-09:  ‘The Governance Research Network (GovNet)

  • ARC Discovery Grant 2002-05: ‘The Neoliberal Legal Academy’

Books & edited collections

  • Ron Levy, Molly O’Brien, Pauline Ridge, Simon Rice & Margaret Thornton (eds), New Directions for Law in Australia, ANU Press, Canberra, 2017: http://press.anu.edu.au/node/2641/download  
  • Thornton (ed), Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences look at the Neoliberal University (ed), ANU Press, Canberra, 2015: http://press.anu.edu.au?p=304001
  • Thornton, Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law, Routledge, London, 2012
  • Thornton (ed), Sex Discrimination in Uncertain Times, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2010 http://epress.anu.edu.au/discrimination_citation.html
  • Thornton (ed), Romancing the Tomes: Popular Culture, Law and Feminism, Cavendish, London, 2002
  • Thornton, Dissonance and Distrust: Women in the Legal Profession, Oxford, 1996 (Chinese edition, Law Press, Beijing, 2001)
  • Thornton (ed) Public and Private: Feminist Legal Debates, Oxford, 1995
  • Thornton, The Liberal Promise: Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Australia, Oxford, 1990

Book chapters

  • Thornton, ‘Academic Un-Freedom in the New Knowledge Economy’ in Angela Brew & Lisa Lucas (eds), Academic Research and Researchers, Open University Press/McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead, Berks & NY, 2009, pp 19-34
  • Thornton, ‘Free Trade and Justice: A Discomfiting Liaison’ in Kevin Walton, Helen Irving & Jacqui Mowbray (eds), Julius Stone: A Study of Influence, Federation Press, Sydney, 2010, pp 145-65
  • Thornton, ‘An Inconstant Affair: Feminism and the Legal Academy’ in Martha Albertson Fineman (ed), Transcending the Boundaries of Law: Generations of Feminism and Legal Theory, Cavendish-Routledge, London & New York, 2011, pp 25-39
  • Thornton, ‘Universities Upside Down: The Impact of the New Knowledge Economy’ in Mary Jane Mossman & Meg Luxton (eds), Reconsidering Knowledge: Feminism and the Academy, Fernwood Publishing, Halifax & Winnipeg, 2012, 76-95
  • Thornton, ‘Neoliberal Governmentality and the Retreat from Gender Equality’ in Ashleigh Barnes (ed), Feminisms of Discontent: Global Contestations, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2015, 71-96

Refereed journal articles

Committees

External Organisations

  • 2012: Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, Exposure draft: Discrimination Law Experts Group
  • 2013: Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013
  • 2014: Freedom of speech (repeal of s. 18c) Bill 2014
  • 2016: Discrimination Law Experts Group, Freedom of Speech in Australia, Submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
  • 2018: Discrimination Law Experts, Modernisation of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT)
  • 2018: Discrimination Law Experts, Inquiry: Religious Freedom Review (Expert Panel on Religious Freedom, Dept PM & Cabinet)

Case notes & book reviews

  • Thornton, Mary Jane Mossman: The First Women Lawyers: A Comparative Study of Gender, Law and the Legal Professions, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2006. (2007) 29(4) Sydney Law Review 735-37
  • Thornton, How well does Australian Democracy serve Australian Women? Prepared by Sarah Maddison and Emma Partridge for the Democratic Audit of Australia, School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 2007 (2007) 26(2) Dialogue: Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia 78-79
  • Thornton, Evan Gerstmann and Matthew J Streb (Eds), Academic Freedom at the Dawn of a New Century: How Terrorism, Governments, and Culture Wars impact Free Speech (2007) 26(2) Higher Education Research & Development 249-51 http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0729 4360&volume=26&issue=2&spage=249&uno_jumptype=alert&uno_alerttype=author,email
  • *Thornton, Book Review, Sharon Roach Anleu & Kathy Mack, Performing Judicial Authority in the Lower Courts (2017) 19(1) Flinders Law Journal
  • Thornton, Book Review, Public Universities, Managerialism and the Value of Higher Education by Rob Watts (2017) 34 (3-4) Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation 257-60: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/tiYaBRNf3gFdA7qiYqeq/ful

Other

  • Thornton,  ‘Excepting Equality in the Victorian Equal  Opportunity Act’ (2010) 23(3) Aust J Labour Law 240-48
  • Thornton, ‘“Post-Feminism” in the Legal Academy?’ (2010) 95 Feminist Review 92-98
  • Thornton, ‘The Racial State as Legal Person’ (2010) 35 Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 140-4
  • Thornton, ‘The Elusiveness of Class Discrimination’ (2012) 24(3) Legaldate 7-8
  • Thornton, ‘Proactive or Reactive? The Senate Report on the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012’ (2012) 25(3) Aust J Labour Law 284-291
  • Thornton, ‘Of Boiled Frogs and Other Things’ (2016) 34(1) Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation 79-82: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08109028.2016.1222130?needAccess=true

Currently supervising

PhD supervision

I have supervised 21 students to completion.

I am willing to supervise in the relevant areas.

SJD supervision

I am willing to supervise in the relevant areas.

MPhil supervision

I am willing to supervise in the relevant areas.

LLM Masters thesis supervision

I am willing to supervise in the relevant areas.

Honours thesis supervision

I have supervised dozens of Honours students over the years.

I am willing to supervise in the relevant areas.

Internship supervision

I am willing to supervise in the relevant areas.

Past courses

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Discrimination and the Law
  • Equality Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Foundations of Legal Studies
  • Gender and Law
  • History and Philosophy of Law
  • Human Rights
  • Legal Theory
  • Migrants & the Law
  • Personal Injury 
  • Property
  • Research Methods
  • Sex Discrimination Law
  • Standards of Legal Responsibility
  • Torts

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team