Lee Bridges became a Professor Emeritus in the School of Law upon his retirement from the University in September 2010. He had previously held academic positions at the University of Birmingham (1970 - 1984) and, from 1994 onwards, in the Warwick Law School, where he became a full Professor in 1997, served as Head of Department from 2001 to 2005, and as Chair of the University Board of Graduate Studies from 2004 until his retirement in 2010. He returned to the University in 2011 as the founding Director of the ESRC Social Science Doctoral Training Centre. At a national level, he was the founding Director of Research at the Public Law Project from 1991 to 1993 and served as a member of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct (ACLEC) from 1994 to 1999 and the Legal Services Consutative Panel from 1999 to 2000.
During his career he undertook major research on criminal defence services, legal aid and the provision of custodial legal advice, including the pilot research for the establishment of the statutory court and 24 hour duty solicitor services in the 1980s and subsequent monitoring of the quality of those services; pilot studies for the contracting of criminal legal aid in the late 1990s; and the evaluation of the experimental public defender system. He is a co-author of Standing Accused: The Organisation and Practices of Criminal Defence Lawyers in Britain (1994) and Evaluation of the Public Defender Service in England and Wales (2007). Other areas of research and publication included race and criminal justice, the right to jury trial, ethics of plea bargaining and representation on guilty pleas, and empirical studies of judicial review.
Since retiring, he has been active around issues of criminal justice, including stop and search and joint enterprise, in particular their disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic communities. He has continued his long-standing association with the Institute of Race Relation as a member of its Council and the Editorial Working Party of its journal, Race & Class; was a founding member of the campaigning organisation, StopWatch; and has served as a trustee of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies since 2012.