Jonathan Herring

Professor of Law


I focus on how the law interacts with the important things in life: not money, companies or insurance; but love, friendship and intimacy. In my work I seek to develop ways the law can recognise and value the goods in activities such as carework and sex, while protecting people from the harms that so often result.   I draw particularly on feminist ethic of care and relational theory in developing my thinking.

 Family Law I have written a popular textbook in this subject and edited several books on theoretical issues in family law. My recent book, Law Through the Life Course, examines how the law is based on particular udnerstandings of the different stages in life.  Domestic Abuse and Human Rights is a powerful call to understand domestic abuse as breach of human rights.  I have also discussed children’s rights; the law of naming; and the nature of marriage.  I was a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and an editor of the Child and Family Law Quarterly. 

Medical Law I have written a leading textbook on this subject. I am particularly interested in the regulation of pregnancy and childbirth; legal responses to depression; and issues around mental capacity.  I have co-edited with Camilla Pickles books on obstetric violence and intimate examinations during labour.  I have also written The Right to be Protected from Committing Suicide, which argues for suicide prevention as a human right.

Criminal Law I have produced two best-selling textbooks on criminal law and have researched the law on sexual offences.  I have co-edited with Hannah Bows a book entitled Rough Sex and the Criminal Law.

Elder Law I have written a leading monograph on the law’s treatment of older people and edited a collection of essays on issues surrounding dementia.

Care Law My book, Caring and the Law, explores the law’s treatment of caring and how adopting an ethic of care could transform the law. 

Law and Vulnerability  Vulnerable Adults and the Law explores the nature of human vulnerability and its relevance to the law.  In Vulnerability, Childhood and the Law I have explored the law's conception of childhood vulneariblity.  My most recent book, Law and the Relational Self, explores how the law could be reshaped to focus on relationships rather than individual rights.

Professional Legal Ethics My text, Legal Ethics, is a popular textbook on professional ethics for lawyers.

Current projects My current projects include an co-edited collection on the philosophy of disability law; a book on violence against women; a book on femicide (with Hannah Bows); a book on sexual offence (with Sorcha McCormack); and co-authorering with Imogen Goold a book Debating Autonomy.