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The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory appoints Mary Ryan as an associate

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO), which supports better outcomes for children by improving the use of research evidence in the family justice system in England and Wales, has appointed Mary Ryan, an independent consultant and lawyer experienced in public law related to children and families and a former chief executive of the Family Rights Group, as its new associate.

Mary worked as a member of the Nuffield FJO development team, which laid the groundwork for its inception, for a year from May 2018. In her new role, Mary will work on a range of individual Nuffield FJO projects, while also helping to shape its strategic direction.   

As a lawyer, Mary has specialised in public law relating to children and families, and is also experienced in social work, social policy and research. Her work in recent years has included policy development, research and evaluation and project management.

Mary was legal adviser for the Family Rights Group, and subsequently became its chief executive. Working as an independent consultant since 1996 (as part of RyanTunnardBrown), Mary has been involved in a wide range of family justice work. She has worked as part of the team researching the Family Drug & Alcohol Court (FDAC) and continues to work, as a member of the FDAC Partnership at the Centre for Justice Innovation, on the wider roll out of the model. Other work has included project management of Care Proceedings Projects in London, being joint author of the Care Crisis Review: Options for Change report, research for Cafcass on user experience of its service, and work with Research in Practice relating to pre-birth assessments in pre proceedings and to parents who come back into care proceedings with subsequent children.

Lisa Harker, director of the Nuffield FJO, said: “Our associates help shape our strategic direction by bringing detailed knowledge, experience, ideas and challenge to the team. The family justice system is complex and few people have a holistic view across both the family courts and social care. Mary’s extensive experience will be a valuable asset as we continue to unpick the challenges facing the system in achieving the best possible outcomes children.”

Mary Ryan said: “Throughout my career I have been committed to an evidence informed approach in family justice and children’s social care and in making messages from research more accessible to professionals and to children and families themselves. I believe the Nuffield FJO has a key role to play in bridging the gap between the justice and social care system for children and families, and am delighted to have the opportunity to work as part of the team once again.”

By improving the use of data and research evidence in decision-making, the Nuffield FJO supports better outcomes for children in the family justice system in England and Wales. It was established by the Nuffield Foundation (an independent charitable trust that aims to advance educational opportunity and social well-being) to meet the needs of practitioners that make pivotal decisions in the lives of children and families.