Diana de Wolff (1959) has been appointed professor of the Legal Profession at the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Faculty of Law. This special chair was designated on behalf of the Legal Profession Chair Foundation (Stichting Leerstoel Advocatuur) and is made possible with support from the Dutch Bar Association (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten). De Wolff is appointed for five years and succeeds Britta Böhler, who occupied the chair from 2012.
This special chair is part of the Amsterdam Centre on the Legal Professions, which also has chairs in the areas of the Judiciary, Public Prosecution and Legal Aid. The research and teaching within this centre of expertise focus on the development and significance of these three main professions in the Dutch rule of law-system.
De Wolff spoke to us about her plans as professor: ‘The Act on Advocates, amended in 2015, determines the core values of the legal profession: independence, partiality, expertise, integrity and confidentiality. The function of these core values is to ensure proper access to justice for all. Within the daily practice of attorneys at law, dilemmas are frequently encountered that deserve critical reflection and debate, especially when conflicts between these core values arise.’ In her research and teaching activities, De Wolff wants to focus on the meaning of these core values, given the diversity of the Dutch bar and the fact that access to justice is under pressure due to high costs and the complexity of law. Furthermore, the profession is dealing with the consequences of rapid economic and technological changes on professional practice.
De Wolff also wants to focus on the monitoring system within the bar. ‘The new Act on Advocates has reinforced internal monitoring. The monitoring is inextricably linked to how attorneys at law act upon the core values’, according to De Wolff. ‘I look forward to further expanding on these themes together with students who are enthusiastic about this valuable profession. I also look forward to encouraging debates both within and outside the legal profession on the position and responsibilities of attorneys within the legal system.’
De Wolff, an employment lawyer, has been affiliated with the Utrecht law firm Stadhouders Advocaten since 1998. As well as providing legal assistance, she is also highly sought after for her skills as a lecturer in postgraduate employment law courses, and she regularly publishes articles in labour law journals. De Wolff is a member of the Disciplinary Appeals Tribunal and deputy justice of the 's-Hertogenbosch Court of Appeal. From 1983 to 1993, De Wolff was a lawyer at an Arnhem law firm, providing legal aid to people with a low income. Between 1999 and 2007, she was a member of the Upper House of the Dutch Parliament for the Green Party (GroenLinks) and spoke on legislation in the fields of Justice and Social Affairs and Employment. From 2008 until 2013, she was a member of the Executive Board of the Dutch Bar Association. During this period, she focused on themes such as professional competence, and as of mid-2012, she also functioned as vice dean of the Dutch Bar Association.
De Wolff studied Dutch Law at Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht (now Utrecht University), specialising in criminal law and graduating in 1982. In 1999, she obtained a doctorate at the Catholic University Nijmegen (now Radboud University) for her doctoral thesis on fixed-term employment contracts.