Justine Pila

Justine's family and her, on their last European holiday before the pandemic.

I was born in Australia and lived there until my 20s when my husband Jonathan and I left with our baby daughter to spend a year abroad. That was 18 years ago.

I was raised by my mother, an English teacher/public servant/women’s liberation activist (pictured standing 38 seconds into this video) in the Monkey Grip era of Melbourne inner-city life. I attended the local high school, which was a microcosm of 1980s’ Australian multiculturalism and very diverse. In my final year, I moved across town for a quieter life and enrolled in a sixth form college. Filling out my university preferences form, I remembered being told I’d like law and put Law/Arts at the top.

After graduating I worked in the IP department of a large city firm. The work was very interesting but the lifestyle and culture were not for me. I went part-time and returned to university to study Science (maths). After briefly considering an actuarial career, I took a job as a judge’s associate. Towards the end of the associateship, I became pregnant and accepted an offer of funding to do a PhD. A year later Jonathan arranged a visiting position at the Institute for Advanced Study, and we moved to Princeton. I finished my doctorate a week before moving again, to Montreal, where Jonathan had accepted a post. Life in a cold climate with a young child and no work, friends or family was difficult, however. So, when someone told me about a lectureship in IP at Oxford, I applied. Getting the post started my academic career.

My research is mainly in copyright and patent law, reflecting my longstanding interests in the creative arts, science, and technology. The freedom afforded by the Oxford system to teach in other areas has also broadened my intellectual perspectives and interests. Most recently, contributing eight seminars on the regulatory impacts of technology to the BCL Regulation course convened by Bettina Lange, and establishing a Jurisprudence “Law, Regulation and Technology” mini-option, have opened up new and exciting research directions.

I have two book projects currently underway. The first, which I feel honoured to be undertaking, is a revision and adaptation of the late Catherine Seville’s EU Intellectual Property Law for inclusion in Edward Elgar’s European Law and Policy series. The second is a book-length essay on law, regulation, and technology in the style of Neil MacCormick's Institutions of Law: An essay in legal theory, based on the research I have done since 2017 in connection with my teaching in this field.

Outside work, swimming has been a long-standing passion of mine. As a child, I spent a lot of time in the water, and at university lap-swimming in a 50-metre outdoor pool became a daily activity. I love swimming in different places and associate every phase of my life with a certain pool/beach and swimming routine. Among other things, I’ll remember the pandemic as the time I couldn’t swim.

Other favourite activities are Scrabble with my daughters, dinners with them and Jonathan, and returning to Australia to see family and friends. I am looking forward to December 2021, when we are planning a family reunion at the Great Barrier Reef with lots of swimming, Scrabble and dinners!

Australia will always be home for me, but I feel lucky to have lived in Oxford and to have raised my daughters here. I am very proud of them and am sure they have benefited greatly from living in such a beautiful town with a rich history and schools that take learning and ideas seriously, not to mention the opportunity to holiday frequently in Europe.

On this page