Dr M. Westerveld (1953) has been named Professor by Special Appointment in Legal Aid in the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The chair has been created by the Legal Aid Board. It is a new chair.
In the coming years, Mies Westerveld will focus her research and teaching on the foundations and (inter)national development of (subsidized) legal aid. She will advocate the development of Legal Aid as a field of study which examines the emergence of the phenomenon of legal aid in the seventies and eighties (including the appearance of legal clinics, legal aid offices, lawyer's collectives, and other law firms that depict themselves as socially concerned), the process by which these parties became juridicially embedded in the ensuing years, and the role that legal aid plays in a contemporary context. Westerveld's research will place emphasis on comparison with other legal regimes, and on how governments can guarantee their citizens' constitutional rights to legal aid.
Westerveld has been involved with legal aid since the beginning of her career. During her studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam she worked in a legal clinic for a number of years, following which she was a partner in a ‘socially-oriented' law firm for ten years. In 1988 she made the transition from legal practice to jurisprudence. She went to work at Utrecht University as a lecturer in Social Law, and obtained her PhD there with a legally comparative thesis on the development of old age and death pensions in the social security systems of the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Westerveld has worked at the UvA as senior university lecturer in Labour Law and as senior researcher in Social Law at the Hugo Sinzheimer Institute (HSI) since 1999. She is also a fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS). Her academic career is characterized, in the HSI's tradition of excellence, by a combination of scholarly and policy-oriented research. Since 2003, Westerveld's work has also had a political dimension: as a member of the Eerste Kamer (Upper House in government), she represents the PvdA (Socio-democratic Party) in the policy areas of Justice and Social Affairs and Employment.