Mirror of law

Associate Professor Marett Leiboff investigates how the non-legal formation of a lawyer affects and influences their practices and legal interpretations. 

Leiboff tall

It’s an interesting research angle that has given Leiboff insight into how a lawyer’s background – their social, cultural, educational and historical background - influences their understanding of the law. 

Leiboff’s interest in this area sprung from her own experience as a graduate student at a law school that immersed its students in “hard-edged black letter doctrine”. 

“Yet this did not stop my classmates and the people teaching me from making assumptions about recent history or past events – in the absence of actual knowledge – affecting their interpretation of the law, and what it meant,” she said. 

Leiboff draws on her own experience and knowledge of creative and cultural industries, as well as an MA in Theatre Studies, to explore a range of areas, from judicial readings and misreadings of visual and popular culture to the use of cultural references by the courts to amplify and explain their reasoning. 

Her research has opened up a new field of legal theory - theatrical jurisprudence – and is broadening discussion and exploration of what Laura Petersen J from the Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australia described as the “reinscription of the past into ourselves and the way we carry stories of law and of history”. 

Leiboff is currently Managing Editor of the transnational journal Law Text Culture and a member of its Board. She has written and co-authored books, been published in international refereed journals and book collections and has guest edited books and special issues of journals such as the Australian Feminist Law Journal. She maintains a number of national and international collaborations in the United Kingdom and Europe. 

Leiboff says she is inspired by the knowledge that her work at the vanguard of cultural legal studies is helping to improve how the law works and “the excitement that comes when law students realise that they now have a deeper insight into what we do as lawyers”.