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Offering interdisciplinary insights from sociological, psychological and gender studies, this book addresses this question: how do professional, lay and gendered actors understand and experience case processing in litigation and mediation? Drawing on data from 131 interviews, questionnaires and observations of plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers and mediators involved in 64 fatality and medical injury cases, the book challenges dominant understandings of how formal legal processes and dispute resolution work in practice as well as the notion that disputants and their representatives broadly understand and want the same things during case processing. In juxtaposing actors' discourse on all sides of ongoing cases on issues such as expectations, needs, comprehensions of what plaintiffs seek from the legal system, objectives for resolving conflict at mediation, and perceptions of what occurs during attempts at case resolution, the findings reveal inherent problems with the core workings of the legal system.
Tamara Relis is a Research Fellow at Columbia University Law School in New York and in the Law Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She holds a PhD in law, an LL.M masters degree (with honors merit) from the LSE law department, and an LL.B law degree from the University of London. She is a trial lawyer (barrister), with experience in trial court practice, as well as having worked and qualified as an attorney in litigation. Dr Relis is the recipient of various awards for her doctoral and postdoctoral research, including those from the British Academy, the Economic & Social Research Council, and from Columbia University and the LSE. She has been invited to speak about her research throughout North America, Europe (Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Croatia), India, and South Africa. She was also invited to Japan through a Japanese government award to speak about her findings, culminating in this book. Dr Relis' work has been published in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review (2007), the Pittsburgh Law Review (2007), Studies in Law, Politics and Society (edited by Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick, 2002), as well as in Japan in Sociology of Law (JSLA-University of Tokyo, 2004). Her work was also translated into Japanese in Kyoto University's Law Journal (2004). She is presently conducting a large-scale empirical study on the permeation of international human rights laws and norms in formal courts versus informal justice processing of violence against women cases throughout India. She uses victims, accused, and legal actors' understandings, aims, and experiences as a lens to map, theorize, and critically analyze the theoretical ideas informing these processes (e.g., norm diffusion theory, universalism versus cultural relativism, restorative justice) and how these ideas are understood by those on the ground.