Law Reform: What's in it for Women?

28 Pages Posted: 9 May 2007

See all articles by Reg Graycar

Reg Graycar

The University of Sydney Law School

Jenny Jane Morgan

University of Melbourne - Law School


In this article, we question whether formal legal processes have been of any value to women and other disadvantaged groups. We suggest that the processes of various law reform agencies might make them particularly unable to respond effectively to issues that affect women. First, we look at the ways in which law reform questions are asked and answered, and at the generally narrow way in which 'terms of reference' are often framed or constructed. Next, we consider the overemphasis on formal outcomes at the expense of attention to process. Finally, we examine the rather problematic relationship that formal law reform agencies have had, at least at times, with research, empirical data and socio-legal methods. Broadly, we argue that insufficient attention is paid to the real lives of those who interact with, and are impacted upon by, the law and legal system. We conclude with a reminder that even if such agencies were more effective, changes to laws can only ever constitute a small part of any profound social change. Yet for all its faults, we imagine that women will continue to turn to the law, as they have for some time now, as one (albeit limited) forum for addressing women's disadvantage.

Keywords: Gender, Law Reform, Legal Strategies, Feminist Legal Scholarship

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Graycar, Reg and Morgan, Jenny Jane, Law Reform: What's in it for Women?. Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 393-419, 2005, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/21, U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 242, Available at SSRN:

Reg Graycar (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

Jenny Jane Morgan

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010

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