Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Elaine Sutherland

Prof. Elaine E. Sutherland

Professor II


Elaine is a Professor II at the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism, a professor emerita at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and a distinguished professor of law emerita at Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon.

Elaine is an internationally renowned expert on Child and Family Law, as the author of over 150 articles and book chapters and 7 books and the editor or co-editor of 9 other volumes.

In 2012, she founded the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Implementing Project (CRC-IP) to explore implementation of the CRC in the international and comparative contexts.

LL.M., University of British Columbia, Canada

LL.B.,University of Glasgow, UK

Get to know Elaine

What are you working on right now?

The third edition of my treatise, Child and Family Law: Intimate Adult Relationships, which focusses on Scots law and sets it in its comparative and international contexts, was published in July 2022 and I am at the planning stage of the companion volume, Children and Young People. More immediately, I am luxuriating in working on more discrete endeavours, including my contribution to the Legitimacy Challenges project and a chapter for the International Survey of Family Law: 2023 Edition.

Can you describe your office space?

Since retiring from teaching at Stirling University in December 2020, I now work in my study at home, with all my books and papers to hand and, often, the company of Ariadne, an adorable 3 year-old tabby to whom we are guardians (see photo).

What is your background?

Law – pretty single track. I began teaching law over 40 years ago, first at the University of Edinburgh, then at the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling. For 20 of those years, until 2018, I spent half of the year at my Scottish university and the other half at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

Is there a book you’d recommend within your field?

Definitely Bill Eskridge’s tour de force, co-authored, with Christopher Riano, Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-Laws, published by Yale University Press in 2020. It was clearly a labour of love and has rightly been hailed as the definitive history of marriage equality in the US.

What do you like most about your job? And what do you like the least?

Best things: The opportunity to research, write and travel were always the joys of academic life for me and, happily, they remain available in ‘retirement’. The other great joy – teaching students – continues to feature, if less frequently, thanks to friends and colleagues who invite me to make guest appearances in their classes and seminars.

Worst things:  The trials of time-consuming administration and the shadow of university politics are now but distant memories!

Place you’ve been where you never want to go back to?

Being a teenager (until I was 17 and went to law school).

And a place you’ve been where you’d like to go back?

The thought of return trips is limited by there being so many new places I would like to see. However, in terms of going back … there are many places … Bergen, of course … and Abu Simbel (approached by water on the Eugenie), Auckland, Boston, Cape Town, NYC, Petra, the San Juan Islands, Sydney … and another ‘of course’ … Paris.