Marie Burton

Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies


Dr Marie Burton specialises in access to justice, legal aid, the legal profession and social welfare law. She has over 30 years' experience of working in and around the civil and criminal justice system. Marie is a former practising solicitor and senior policy analyst whose work has influenced the development of national policy on legal aid, financial exclusion, high cost credit and debt.

Marie’s recent research focuses on the impact of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) on social welfare law.  Her study comparing telephone and face-to-face advice identified the significant disadvantages that social welfare law clients experience when dealing with telephone-only services (Calling for Justice: Comparing Telephone and Face-to-face Advice in Social Welfare Legal Aid’, PhD Thesis, LSE, 2015).  This research was cited in the Ministry of Justice Post-Implementation review of LASPO in 2019 and other policy responses to the legal aid changes.  Marie has also published articles in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law and the Journal of Social Security Law.

Marie is an experienced law teacher.  She has taught law at Middlesex University and the London School of Economics.  Marie is interested too in measures aimed at addressing the attainment gap in higher education.

Marie qualified as a solicitor in 1994. She worked primarily in the independent advice sector representing clients with a range of social welfare problems. She has practised in the areas of housing and homelessness, education, human rights, criminal and family law. She also acted for victims of crime and has taken actions against the police. She has conducted cases in the High Court, county court, criminal courts and before tribunals and has extensive frontline experience of contested litigation.

As a senior policy analyst, Marie influenced the development of national policy. The project she led for the Legal Services Commission (LSC) on the funding of housing possession court duty schemes grew into an essential element of the LSC’s strategy to respond to unmet need for social welfare legal aid.  In 2010, her report into payday loans ‘Keeping the Plates Spinning: the perceptions of payday loans in Great Britain’ was one of the earliest in-depth studies of the problems faced by vulnerable consumers using this form of credit and highlighted the need for far-reaching change.

Marie has been a Trustee of several voluntary sector organisations, including the Legal Action Group. She is currently a Friend of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group.


1990: Southampton University, Sally Kiff Prize for the most outstanding merit in the study of human rights and related areas

2014: London School of Economics, Law Department Class Teacher Award