Jay has twenty years’ experience as a solicitor specialising in tort, private family and land law.  In 2009 she chose to embark on a new career as a Child Protection Social Worker by attending Keele University, achieving a Master of Arts degree in Social Work.  After graduation she joined Stoke on Trent City Council and practiced within their Children in Care and Safeguarding Referral Teams where she was committed to improving outcomes for children and their families. She has extensive experience of providing expert evidence in the Family Court and enabling permanence planning, family support, special guardianship, foster care and adoption for children and young people.  She dealt with complex cases involving all aspects of abuse and neglect and worked closely with families and professionals from various agencies and multi-faith communities.  She is further qualified in Advanced Systemic Family Practice, assessment of parents with learning disabilities (PAM’s) and as a Practice Educator of social work students.

In 2017 she was seconded to the Northwest Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership as a Consultant (Academic) Social Worker.  This introduced her to academic social work education, and she formed part of a team carrying out research projects seeking to improve social work education for students, newly qualified and experienced social workers. Additionally, she was able to contribute to the BA and MA social work programmes at Keele and Staffordshire Universities by providing lectures and workshops supporting the application of theory to practice.  

In 2018 Jay joined Keele University as a full-time lecturer in Social Work.  She specialised in social work law, theory to practice and working with children and families on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.  She was awarded a Post-Graduate Diploma in Higher Education Practice in 2020 to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Jay continues to provide sessional teaching and supervision within Keele Law School.

In 2022 Jay was further awarded a Distinction for completing a Master of Laws in Law and Society from Keele University. 

Research and scholarship

Jay embarked upon a full-time PhD scholarship in the School of Law at Keele in 2022.  Following on from her LLM Dissertation, she continues to focus upon legal literacy and its impact upon social care practice.  Her dissertation explored the concept and use of legal consciousness as a socio-legal methodology and its value towards adult social care research to improve practitioner understanding of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. 

PhD title and project abstract

Consent and the Mental Capacity Act 2005:  Exploring the Legal Understanding of Care Practitioners

This socio-legal research project explores the understanding of the term ‘consent’ by social care professionals using the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to assess decision making capacity.  Alongside Partners in Care, a specialist organisation providing training to over 250 adult institutional care companies, this research seeks to examine how legal literacy is perceived, embedded and applied in practice.  Legal consciousness methodology will be utilised through qualitative interviews with social care assessors with the aim of supporting any further mental capacity training and development needs within the workforce.

Supervisory team

  • Lead Academic Supervisor:     Dr Laura Pritchard-Jones
  • Academic Co-Supervisor:         Dr Fabienne Emmerich
  • Partnership Supervisor:             David Crosby, Chief Officer, Partners in Care

Further information

Professional and academic memberships include:

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
  • Social Work Law Association (SWLA)
  • Keele Institute for Social Inclusion (KISI)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance)
  • Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA)

Post Graduate Researcher Student Representative for the School of Law.


Kirkham, J. (2024) 'Book Review: A Clinician's Brief Guide to Dementia and the Law', The British Journal of Social Work, pp. 1-3,

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