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Dr Kara Woodbury Smith

Assistant Professor of Legal Theory

Assistant Professor of Legal Theory in the Durham Law School
Assistant Professor in Legal Theory in the Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)


I joined Durham Law School in September 2018 and am a founding member of the Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy (est. 2020) and The Collective: Women in Legal Philosophy (est. 2023). 

I have a BA in Psychology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (2004), an MA in Ethics and the Philosophy of Theology from King’s College, London (2007), and a PhD in Philosophy from McMaster University (2020) where I studied under the supervision of Wil Waluchow.

Whilst my philosophical interests are varied, I tend to write about general jurisprudence, the nature of coercion, how coercion and law conceptually relate, and how they should come together in legal practice.

Research interests

  • Ethics (meta and normative)
  • General Jurisprudence
  • Philosophy of constitutional law
  • Philosophy of human rights law
  • Philosophy of international law

Esteem Indicators

  • 2023: The Collective: Women in Legal Philosophy: Named to the Executive Committee
  • 2022: Top Downloaded Article recognition by Wiley: ['The Nature of Law and Potential Coercion' (2020) was one of the most downloaded papers in the12 months following online publication.]
  • 2021: Awarded the 'Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Staff Award,' Durham Law School:
  • 2000: Invited presentations:
    1. 'Incentivising Law' | UCL Legal Theory Lecture Series. UCL Faculty of Laws, London, UK. 2 October 2023.

    2. 'Inclusive Legal Positivism and Entailed Law’ | Jurisprudence Discussion Group. Oxford University Faculty of Law, Oxford, UK. 9 February 2023. 

    3. ‘Incentivising Law' | Women in Legal Philosophy Workshop. Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy, Surrey, UK. 9 December 2022. 

    4. ‘The Complication with Coercion’ | Newcastle Law School Seminar Series: Law, Politics, and the Power of Imagination. Newcastle University, Newcastle Law School. Online. May 2020. 


Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Journal Article

Supervision students