Canadian Law School Faculty Survey



A total of 220 faculty members from 1schools responded. This resulted in a response rate of 87% (19/22) for the schools, and 35% (220/633) for the total number of faculty members across Canada.

3.1 Areas of Interest

Table 1 lists the 53 areas of teaching and/or research interests by the number of faculty members who work in each area. All faculty members indicated more than one area of interest which resulted in the total number of teaching and research areas exceeding the total number of faculty members.

It is important to note at the onset that there is some variance in the identification of categories of teaching and research interests chosen by the respondents. For example, under Access to Justice, legal aid was noted as a sub-area of interest by a number of faculty while others described their legal aid work in relation to Restorative Justice. Legal aid and Restorative Justice are two of the 53 broad categories listed in the survey. This variance may be unavoidable because faculty members were asked to self-report the areas that best represented their own work as well as to identify the topics or issues they were involved in within these broad areas. Some faculty members may have determined that certain legal areas represented their interests better than others even though they may have easily been categorized under a few different areas. In addition, many faculty members did not provide additional details on their broad areas of interest, limiting the ability to always consistently categorize the specifics of their teaching and/or research interests.

Table 1: Area of law by number of law faculty indicating a teaching and/or research interest in each area

3.1.1 Most Commom Areas of Interests

As indicated in Table 1, Constitutional Law is the most common area with 67 faculty members indicating that they teach or carry out research in this area. This is followed by:

  • Human Rights Law (53),
  • Aboriginal People and the Law (47),
  • Contracts Law (41),
  • Charter Remedies (40),
  • Dispute Resolution (39),
  • Property Law (39),
  • Criminal Law (38),
  • Globalization (38), and
  • Tort Law (37).

Together, these represent the top 10 areas of interest.

A review of the comments provided within these 10 broad areas revealed that human rights-related areas and international interests showed up across several broad areas as well as under the explicit area. Human rights-related sub-areas of work were included under Constitutional law and Aboriginal People and the Law as well as under Human Rights Law, Charter Remedies, Gender Equality, and Civil Liberties. Similarly, international interests were noted in the areas of Dispute Resolution and Contract Law as well as under Globalization.

Constitutional Law

Of the 67 faculty members who indicated Constitutional Law as an area in which they teach or conduct research, 13 are interested in Constitutional Law in relation to Charter remedies and 8 in relation to human rights law. Other sub-areas of interest in relation to Constitutional law are:

  • division of power (8),
  • federalism (6),[2]
  • criminal practice,
  • family-related issues, and
  • constitutional theory.
Aboriginal People and the Law

Aboriginal People and the Law is another common area of law with 47 faculty members teaching or conducting research in this area. Five of these 47 faculty members indicated that their interest in this area is related to constitutional issues. Six noted that their work in the area of Aboriginal People and the Law is in criminal law or criminal justice, while others mentioned self-government; property and Native land claims; environment; cultural property; legal history; mothers, children and child welfare law; youth justice and institutional abuse; and Aboriginal law itself.


Turning to Globalization, of note here is that the sub-areas reflect interest not only in the impact of globalization on society but also in globalization’s impact on the practice of law itself. Identified sub-areas included:

  • the effect of globalization on state sovereignty;
  • development and sustainability;
  • human rights and global citizenship;
  • social control through asset forfeiture in the international forum;
  • multinational legal accountability;
  • international trade and commerce;
  • international disputes;
  • effect of carrying on business in multiple jurisdictions;
  • trade and environment under negotiations and administrations of new trade regimes; as well as
  • biotechnology and health;
  • cross-border telemedicine; and
  • inter-country adoption.

Sub-areas concerning globalization’s impact on the practice of law itself included:

  • the effect of globalization on the legal profession and legal practice;
  • Canadian policy and legal response;
  • the spread of constitutionalism and judicial review;
  • comparative constitutional law; and
  • the impact on women as lawyers.
Contract Law

Contract Law, with 41 faculty members working in this area, is another common area of law. Sub-areas which were noted by at least 2 faculty members included international trade (4), e-commerce, and good faith or unconscionability (3), showing that interest in contract law is not only of contract law within Canada’s borders, but for contract law on an international level as well.

Dispute Resolution

Four of the three faculty members who work in the area of Dispute Resolution described their teaching or research in this area in relation to international, globalization, or trans­national disputes. Other sub-areas included:

  • mediation (6),
  • labour law (5);
  • environmental law (2);
  • and family law.
Property Law

Thirty-nine faculty members reported working in the area of Property Law. Sub-areas noted by at least 2 or more faculty members included:

  • trusts,
  • personal property and/or civil property (7);
  • Aboriginal people and property (4); and
  • intellectual property (3).
Criminal Law

Not surprisingly, the 38 faculty members working in the area of Criminal Law are working in a wide array of sub-areas. Sub-areas ranged from:

  • domestic violence or sexual assault (3);
  • to reproductive health;
  • cultural minorities;
  • substantive criminal law;
  • computer crime;
  • corporate crime; and
  • criminal law internationally; to
  • the history of criminal justice;
  • reform of policing; and
  • civil devices to control criminal activity.
Tort Law

Turning to Tort Law, 37 faculty members indicated teaching or conducting research in this area. Two faculty members indicated work in multinational or international legal aspects. Other sub-areas included:

  • common and civil law (3);
  • domestic violence;
  • criminal law; remedies;
  • personal injury law;
  • liability of non-profit organizations;
  • bias in damage awards;
  • developments in tort law;
  • delictual responsibility;
  • medical-legal issues;
  • no fault compensation;
  • negligence; civil law liability;
  • common law torts;
  • law of privacy;
  • environmental changes;
  • and parent responsibility for the acts of children.

3.1.2 Areas with the Fewest Faculty Members

The research areas that had the fewest faculty members (less than 10) engaging in teaching or research were Crime Prevention, Correctional Law, Sex Offenders, Demographics, Telecommunications, Firearms Control, and Social Differentiation. While this reflects the extent of interest to some degree, it may not necessarily mean that interest in these areas is minimal. Rather, research interests may show up somewhat differently under another conceptual framework. For example, while only 2 faculty members reported their work under the Social Differentiation category, interests such as the rights of gays and lesbians were mentioned under Charter Remedies (2), Human Rights (1), and Civil Liberties (1), as well as under Social Differentiation (1).

There were a few faculty members who identified categories to describe their work other than the 53 listed. Supplemental categories covered a broad range of interests including legal ethics, environmental law, and sustainable development.

3.2 Areas of Law and Research

In developing the extensive list of the 53 areas of teaching and/or research interests included on the questionnaire, a number of Department of Justice Canada initiatives and special projects were taken into account. Noteworthy here because of the breadth of its bearing on government, Non-Government Organizations and academia, is the recent Policy Research Initiative (PRI) launched by the federal government in July 1996. This initiative was introduced to identify the policy challenges facing Canada over the next decade and to develop a research plan in response. A number of the broad teaching and research areas examined in this Survey correspond to a number of policy challenges being addressed in the PRI. This presented an opportunity to examine the areas of policy interest which cross disciplines – an increasingly important approach given the complexity of current socio-legal issues.

Areas that intersect under the Policy Research Initiative (PRI) include:

  • Globalization, Technological Change,
  • Value Change,
  • North American Integration,
  • Demographic Change, and
  • Social Differentiation.

Other policy challenges such as the Environment, Multiple Centres of Power, and Canada-US Relations, although they were not specifically listed in the 53 broad areas, were reported in the comments sections as sub-issues under some of these broad areas. Table 2 provides a list of the PRI categories which correspond directly to those included in the 53 areas of law listed in the Survey.

Table 2: Policy Research Initiative (PRI) areas by number of law faculty indicating a research interest in the area
Globalization 38
Technological Change 15
Value Change 11
North American Integration 11
Demographic Change 6
Social Differentiation 2

As shown in Table 2, Globalization emerged as the PRI area of most interest among faculty members. This is not surprising given that it was one of the areas of most common interest out of the 53 areas examined in the overall survey. The other PRI areas appear to receive substantially less attention from faculty members.

3.3 Advisory Experience, Experience as an Expert Witness, Pro Bono Work

Forty-six percent (101/220) of the responding faculty have acted as a special advisor for a government department, private agency, NGO, or working group in the last two years. Examples of organizations listed include the Department of Justice Canada, various provincial Justice and Attorney General Departments, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Human Rights Review panel, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations.

Thirteen percent (28/220) of the respondents have been called upon as expert witnesses. This includes being an expert witness for Royal Commissions, the Ontario Human Rights Board Inquiry, the Discipline Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, constitutional law cases, sexual harassment and workplace power imbalance cases, and Aboriginal sentencing cases.

Fifteen percent (34/220) are currently providing pro bono legal advice. This includes providing services to university legal information clinics, community legal clinics, the Canadian Bar Association, and various health care associations. Others are advising on family and children’s law issues or providing mediation seminars.

[2] Numbers in brackets that follow sub-areas of interest indicate the number of these written-in under the broad area; no number following a sub-area indicates that there were only 1 or 2 such write-ins.

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