Socio-Legal Studies Association

Where law meets social sciences & the humanities

Nancy Drucker 1945–2020

It is with great sadness that we note the death on 8 December 2020 of Nancy Drucker, who edited the first eight issues of the Socio-Legal Newsletter. The first two newsletters came out in 1989 and were the result of a joint initiative by the Socio-Legal Group (the predecessor of the SLSA) and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University.

Nancy DruckerNancy was a perfectionist in everything she did and was a brilliant choice to edit the Socio-Legal Newsletter. Trained as a child care social worker, she had been a lecturer in social policy at Edinburgh University until she resigned when her husband (Dr Henry Drucker) was appointed as the first Director of Development at Oxford University. At the time, Don Harris, Director of the ESRC Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), was keen for the Centre to support the Socio-Legal Group, and subsequently the SLSA when it was set up, but wanted to do so behind the scenes so that it did not look as though it was controlled by the Oxford Centre. A chance meeting between Henry Drucker and Don Harris resulted in Nancy being hired as administrator of the Centre with a remit to use part (and, as it turned out, a substantial part) of her time editing what became the Socio-Legal Newsletter.

Nancy had some relevant editorial experience. Together with her husband Henry, she had edited three issues of the Scottish Government Yearbook, a much acclaimed edited collection of articles on Scottish politics and policy. However, in taking on the Socio-Legal Newsletter, she had no template from which to work and had to start from scratch. Undaunted, she quickly developed her own design and style, which has proved to be exceptionally enduring, and it is uncanny how little the newsletter‘s appearance has changed over the years. The main discernible change is that the cartoons that Nancy was so keen on have, rather regrettably, disappeared. From the start, Nancy commissioned and then edited articles from a wide range of contributors and wrote a good deal of the material herself. She was exceptionally well organised, making up ‘to-do‘ lists every day and crossing items off when she had done them. She was meticulous in her attention to detail, editing every submitted piece with precision and care. The newsletter quickly became an essential source of information for SLSA members on ongoing research, funding opportunities, recent publications, upcoming conferences and other actvities of interest to members of the growing socio-legal community in the UK. As its first editor, she laid the foundations for the enormously successful newsletter from which all of us benefit today. It is the envy of numerous other professional associations, many of them much larger than the SLSA.

Nancy was a quiet but very determined person who flourished behind the scenes. She had very strong convictions and never hesitated to speak her mind or to stand up for what she thought was right. As a measure of the esteem in which she was held, she was made an Honorary Life Member of the SLSA. This status is awarded, on the recommendation of the SLSA Board, to any member of the association who gives service ‘which is clearly over and above the level of commitment normally shown by members of the Association or the Executive’.

After leaving the SLSA, Nancy worked as the Organiser of the Oxfordshire Social Service Department’s Panel of Guardians until her retirement. Her husband Henry, to whom she was devoted, pre-deceased her. In later years, she suffered from chronic ill-health and spent the last six to seven years of her life in a nursing home in Oxford. She had no children and did not leave any next-of- kin.

Mike Adler and Mavis Maclean

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