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Rob wilks 1x1 2483

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  • PhD Law – University of Leicester (ongoing)
  • PG Certificate Developing Professional Practice in Higher Education – University of South Wales (2015)
  • LLM Law of Employment Relations – University of Leicester (2007)
  • PG Diploma Legal Practice (LPC) – Cardiff University (2003)
  • PG Diploma Law (GDL) – University of the West of England (2002)
  • BA (Hons) History – Swansea University (2001)


Originally from Newport, I am a Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) user and teach through the medium of BSL.

I have a BA (Hons) degree in History, and commenced my legal training by completing the Graduate Diploma in Law in 2002 and the Legal Practice Course in 2003. I qualified as a solicitor in 2007 following a secondment to South West London Law Centres and Hugh James Solicitors whilst employed by the Royal Association for Deaf people.

On an academic level, I achieved a LLM with Distinction in Law of Employment Relations with the University of Leicester in 2007 and am currently doing a PhD in Law with the University of Leicester with a College of Arts, Humanities and Law Scholarship exploring whether equality law is working for Deaf people and whether sign language recognition will achieve transformative equality. I aim to complete my PhD in 2020.

My specialist area of law is Equality Law and Employment Law, and I am module leader for these optional modules on the LLB programmes.

My research interests – aside from employment and equality law – include sign language recognition and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I am also passionate about the benefits of clinical legal education and am a strong advocate of clinical work being on par with teaching and research in HE institutions.

I have a blog called North of the Stupid Line, which you can find here.


Between 2003 and 2014, I worked for the Royal Association for Deaf people, and my last role before leaving was Director of Legal Services. I was responsible for the RAD Deaf Law Centre which delivered legal advice services to the Deaf community nationally before it closed in 2014 due to the legal aid cuts which took effect after the Legal Aid and Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 was passed.

I also practised as a Consultant Solicitor under Setfords Solicitors between 2014 and 2018, and dealt with a range of employment and discrimination matters, and provided a will-writing service for Deaf people.


Course Leader:

  • Legal Practice Course
  • LLM Legal Practice

Legal Advice Clinic Supervisor

Module Leader:

  • Advanced Legal Practice (LLB Legal Practice)
  • Advanced Legal Skills and Ethics (LLB Law)
  • Employment Law (LLB Law)
  • Employment Law (MSc Human Resources Management)
  • Equality Law (LLB Law)
  • Equality, Rights and Society (LLM Laws)
  • Government, Politics and the Law (CertHE Legal Studies)
  • Law in Context (Foundation Year)
  • Legal Practice Research Project (LLM Legal Practice)
  • Research Methods (LLM Laws)
  • Skills for Legal Practice (LPC)


Contributions to books

  • Lawson, L, McLean, F, O’Neill, R and Wilks, R, ‘Recognising British Sign Language in Scotland’, in De Meulder, M, McKee, R and Murray, J, The Legal Recognition of Sign Languages: Advocacy and Outcomes Around the World (Multilingual Matters, 2019).


  • Rob Wilks, ’Teaching through BSL: its impact on teaching practice (Learning and Teaching Conference, University of South Wales, June 2019)
  • Gordon Hay, Rachel O’Neill and Rob Wilks, ‘The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015’ (Deaf Studies Conference, University of Wolverhampton, February 2019)
  • Rob Wilks, ‘Why equality law and Deaf people don’t get on’ (Business School Research Conference: Gaining Momentum, University of South Wales, 29 May 2018)
  • Rob Wilks, ‘Why equality law and Deaf people don’t get on: developing Deaf Legal Theory’ (Deaf Academics Conference, Copenhagen, August 2017)


  • Brattan-Wilson, J and Wilks, R, ‘Making the law work for young Deaf people’ (Royal Association for Deaf people 2012)
  • Masterson, D, ‘Disability Discrimination Act 1995, why do barriers still exist for d/Deaf people?’ (Wilks, R, ed, Royal Association for Deaf people 2007)



  • Wilks, R, ‘Brexit – what impact will Brexit have on the Deaf community?’ (British Deaf News, )
  • Wilks, R, ‘Brexit – UK’s greatest constitutional crisis yet?’ (British Deaf News, )
  • Wilks, R, ‘Brexit – what’s it all about?’ (British Deaf News, )
  • Wilks, R, ‘We don’t need a BSL Act, apparently’ (British Deaf News, June 2016) 22-23
  • Wilks, R, ‘Analysis: Are you in court and know the interpreter well? Inform the judge’ (British Deaf News, December 2015)
  • Rob Wilks, ‘Deaf people and access to legal services’ (Limping Chicken, 21 May 2012) <>


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Society of Legal Scholars
  • Socio-Legal Studies Association
  • Discrimination Law Association


  • Sign language recognition
  • Theories of equality
  • Equality law
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Clinical legal education
  • Critical disability theory
  • Deaf Legal Theory
  • Legal ethics
  • Teaching through BSL
  • Deaf people and the legal system
  • Employee status
  • BSL/English Interpreting in the legal system
  • Criminal justice for Deaf people

I am happy to supervise students completing MPhils, PhDs or Master’s level dissertations on any of the above topics or in human rights and social welfare law.

Current Supervisions


The effectiveness of addressing inequalities among LGBT children in Wales. (current)
Student Name: Liam Corley
Other Supervisors: Dr Ruth Gaffney-Rhys (DoS), Professor Howard Williamson

Areas of Expertise

  • Disability discrimination
  • Equality law
  • Sign language recognition
  • Employment law
  • Legal ethics



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