Interim-Dean appointed to School of Law and Social Justice

Posted on: 2 August 2021 by Debra Morris and Warren Barr in Blog

Prof Warren Barr, the new Interim Dean for the School of Law and Social Justice
Prof Warren Barr, New Interim Dean of Law and Social Justice.

The School of Law and Social Justice is delighted to announce the appointment of an Interim Dean, Professor Warren Barr, from 1 August 2021 for a period of 12 months. Warren, currently the Head of the Law Department at Liverpool, will take over from Professor Debra Morris, who steps down after serving seven years as Dean of the School, Debra returns to the role of Professor of Charity Law and Policy in the Law Department and will also be co-chair of the University Athena Swan Steering Group.

This is an exciting time for the School of Law and Social Justice, as we approach the start of a new academic year 2021/22, the opportunities provided by hybrid active learning and working, and the chance to re-engage with the School’s new home, the School of Law and Social Justice building, which opened in January 2020.  This £24 million building houses all academic staff in Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology and Law, all professional services staff across the School, provides accommodation for postgraduate research students, and features custom space for the multi-award winning Liverpool Law Clinic and Interchange activities.  In addition, the University of Law provides courses on entry to the legal profession from dedicated space on the second floor.


Prof Debra Morris

We sat down with both Debra and Warren to reflect on the last seven years and consider what the future looks like for the School.

A lot has happened over the last seven years Debra, what a journey! What has been your highlight?

On reflection, there have been many highlights.  Graduation ceremonies must feature as a regular high point for me.  Whilst it has always been somewhat daunting to learn and practise how to pronounce every students’ name and then read them out on stage, Graduation day is always such a wonderful day.  It is a joy to see the students so happy and their parents so proud, at the culmination of so much hard work.  Another significant highlight has been the move into our new School of Law and Social Justice Building.  Whilst we are yet to gain full benefit from it, due to lockdown following shortly after the move in early 2020, I get such a warm feeling every time I enter the building, and I know that it will serve us all well for many years to come.

Have there been any particularly challenging times?

The pandemic has been a very challenging period for all of us.  We have all had to overcome both personal and professional challenges.  The uncertainty and frequent changes that the pandemic has caused have been tough for us all to handle.  The online environment that immediately opened up to us through the wonderful world of Zoom, Teams etc., has been amazing and has allowed us to continue with our core business.  However, being a sociable person who likes to chat with colleagues when meeting them at work, I have missed the face to face contact. I look forward to picking this up again very soon.

Why do you believe students should be excited about studying at SLSJ?

We have an amazing team of academics and professional services staff and we are ready to welcome students in our brand new School of Law and Social Justice Building.  There is much to be excited about!

As a former graduate of Liverpool Law School, what advice do you have for students?

I would advise students to take advantage of all the fantastic opportunities on offer whilst studying at the University of Liverpool.  It’s an old adage but it’s true – you get out of life what you put in.  The more students engage with their studies, and equally importantly, extra-curricular activity, the more they will enjoy their time here and the more they will benefit in the long run.

Do you have a message or words of advice for Warren?

Enjoy every minute in the role.  The time passes very quickly!


Prof Warren Barr, the new Interim Dean for the School of Law and Social Justice

Congratulations on your appointment Warren! What are your plans for your time as interim Dean?

Oh, that reminds me of the interview questions!  I plan to carry on the good work of the outgoing Dean, and hope to be able to do so in the same collegial, transparent and effective way.  I really enjoyed my four years working with colleagues in Law as Head of Department, supporting them where I could, and I look forward to doing the same with colleagues in Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology in this new role.  Great things happen when great people feel empowered to move things forward.

Why do you believe that the University of Liverpool School of Law and Social Justice is an exciting place to be?

There are so many reasons, supported by our fabulous new home.  It is a delight to work in an environment where colleagues, both academic and professional services, are completely focussed in giving of their best, whether that is in helping our fabulous students achieve their potential and ambitions, or in addressing some of the most important and vexing societal issues through their world leading research. It is a privilege to work with these people and see what they produce together.  In consequence, the wealth of opportunities available to our students is staggering and the chance to get involved in addressing real world issues, often within the city of Liverpool, elevates the experience for all. 

Do you have a message or words of advice for new and continuing students for the forthcoming 21/22 academic year?

I think Debra stole my thunder here a bit, but it really is seize the opportunities offered.  Life at University is much more than the scheduled classes, excellent though they are, and the great delights offered by Liverpool nightlife.  There are numerous research events and lectures held throughout the academic year in the School, most of them accessible to students, and I would advise all to make sure to attend at least some of these as you will be most welcome.  One never knows what one hears that will spark the next great idea, and, as we move from pandemic life back to a more socially engaged world, the opportunity to network and make important contacts at these events can prove invaluable in the future.  Most of all, I would urge all students to enjoy the experience – carpe diem!