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 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) was 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.

Appointments

  • 2012: ANU Public Policy Fellow

Significant research publications

  • Thornton (ed), Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences look at the Neoliberal University (ed), ANU Press, Canberra, 2014: http://press.anu.edu.au?p=304001
  • Thornton, Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, 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 University Press, Melbourne, 1996 (Chinese edn, Law Press, Beijing, 2001)
  • Thornton (ed) Public and Private: Feminist Legal Debates, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995
  • Thornton, The Liberal Promise: Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1990

 

Recent news

04
Nov
2015

With a decline in government investment, universities are being forced to act like private for-profit corporations, but what does this mean for their obligation to fulfil a public role?

23
Jun
2015

If you want to question the function of the Australian Human Rights Commission, study the letter of the law, says ANU Law expert Margaret Thornton.

19
Jul
2013
By May 2013, a succession of federal government cuts to higher education in a little over a year amounted to almost $4 billion. These cuts represent yet another step in the neoliberal striptease of the state.

In the Media

4
Nov
2015
Margaret Thornton writes in The Conversation
23
Jun
2015
Margaret Thornton writes in Canberra Times
18
Mar
2015
Margaret Thornton comments in Canberra Times
18
Mar
2015
Margaret Thornton writes in Canberra Times

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 2012-2015: '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

  • Thornton (ed), Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences look at the Neoliberal University (ed), ANU Press, Canberra, 2014: 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, ‘The Australian Legal Profession: Towards a National Identity’ in Bill Felstiner (ed), Reorganisation and Resistance: Legal Professions Confront a Changing World, Hart, Oxford, 2005, 133-69
  • 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, ‘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

  • 2008: Effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Legal & Constitutional Affairs, Aust Senate (plus oral evidence presented to Committee)
  • 2008: Review of Higher Education (Bradley Review)
  • 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

Case notes & book reviews

  • Thornton,  Susan Magarey (ed), Dame Roma: Glimpses of a Glorious Life (2002) 30 J Historical Society of South Australia 103-06
  • Thornton, Regina Graycar and Jenny Morgan, The Hidden Gender of Law (2nd edn) (2002) 26 Melbourne University Law Rev 750-55
  • 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

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

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

   

11
Jan
2016
Author(s): Margaret Thornton

‘Work/life balance’ (WLB) emerged as the catchcry of workers everywhere in the late 20th century. It was particularly appealing to women lawyers as it was thought that if a balance could be effected between work and life, satisfying careers and the raising of children could be combined. The key to effecting this balance, it was believed, was flexible work. Technology has facilitated this flexibility as all that is required is a computer, or other device with internet connection, and a mobile phone. Provided that the firm is agreeable, the lawyer would have a degree of autonomy in determining when and where the work is carried out. However, flexible work has not always proved to be the boon that was hoped, for the shift from face-time to virtual time has blurred the boundary between work and life, insidiously extending the hours of work and impinging on the realm of intimacy. Drawing on a web-based survey and interviews with lawyers Australia-wide, this article considers the ramifications of perpetual connectivity for lawyers in private practice, with particular regard to its gender significance.

Centre: PEARL
Research theme: The Legal Profession
05
Mar
2014
Author(s): Margaret Thornton

State disinvestment in higher education has been a notable characteristic of neoliberalism all over the world and the corporatization of universities has been the typical response. It has led to a proliferation of law schools with students paying high fees. Corporatization has also engendered a culture of relentless competition between universities, which manifests itself in league tables and rankings. The pursuit of prestige has compelled law schools to prioritize research over teaching, which poses a dilemma for what is taught and how it is taught. The contradictions of the corporatization thesis are graphically illustrated by the experiences of Australia, which might be described as the canary in the mine shaft. While corporatization plays out differently in decentralized regimes with a substantial private sector, such as the United States, its impact on the legal academy has been similarly profound. The dilemmas posed by corporatization for the legal academy require considered scholarly attention.

Centre: PEARL
Research theme: Legal Education

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