The Improvising Judge: An Interview with Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth, Northern Ireland County Court

Sara L Ramshaw, Seamus Mulholland


Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth (HHJ Smyth) was interviewed on Wednesday 22 June 2016 at the Newry Courthouse, Northern Ireland, by barrister Seamus Mulholland and legal academic Sara Ramshaw. HHJ Smyth was an invaluable contributor to the Into the Key of Law research project, volunteering as a project interviewee, focus group member and a panel participant at the “Just Improvisation: Enriching child protection law through musical techniques, discourses and pedagogies” Symposium at Queen’s University Belfast, 29 – 30 May 2015. In this interview, HHJ Smyth provides valuable insight into a variety of important issues, such as training judges to become better improvisers, the limits of improvisation

in, particularly, Northern Irish family law, the existing structures or skills that make improvisation possible and, perhaps most importantly, the importance of creativity, “bespoke solutions”, and attentive or deep listening in the family law realm.


Improvisation; judging; Northern Ireland; Family Law; judicial training; listening; creativity

Full Text:



Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624