Working in Law’s Borderlands: Translation and the Work of an Advice Office

Morag McDermont, Eleanor Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Increasingly people in the UK are turning to voluntary sector advice organisations for help and support in dealing with everyday problems. Here we argue that advice organisations, who work in the borderlands of law, are nevertheless key players in legal arenas, focusing on local Citizens Advice offices supporting clients with employment problems. We look at the making of advisers as border-workers through programmes which turn volunteers into employment advisers; and the paid advisers who inhabit spaces on the edges of the profession. We examine the social practices of these advisers, the ways in which law-work becomes translation and advice-work becomes a process of co-production between adviser and client. In concluding, we consider how far into the legal arena it is possible to go with limited resources; and what happens when translating the technicalities of law no longer works. Translation comes to mean advisers turning to their activist-selves and adopting political tactics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1445-1464
Number of pages20
JournalOñati Socio-Legal Series
Issue number7
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Advice services
  • transalation
  • legal consciousness
  • employment disputes


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