Research Centres and Chairs
Centres of Research Excellence
The Common Law Section’s Centres of Excellence include research centres, networks, programs, laboratories, clinics and research groups that provide valuable meeting places for researchers to exchange ideas and apply their findings. These collaborative environments foster innovation, while offering a common spaces where students and researchers can come together to test and develop their work, creating new ideas and advancing the University’s vibrant research culture.
Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability
The Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability is the University of Ottawa's forum for research, teaching, discussion and advocacy related to environmental law. The Centre aims to promote policy-relevant environmental law research and teaching; encourage collaboration amongst faculty and students on research, teaching and community outreach relating to environmental law; and recruit, assist and train the best environmental law researchers and students. The Centre is home to one of the largest concentrations of environmental law professors of any law school in Canada, with areas of expertise including water law, toxic torts, environmental justice, sustainable food law, international trade, economic instruments biotechnology and aboriginal law.
Director: Nathalie Chalifour
Centre for Law, Technology and Society
The goal of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society is to research, analyze and theorize the complex and interdependent relationships between law, technology and society. This centre for research, student training and knowledge dissemination brings together independent scholars and professors interested in its strategic areas of research, which include a wide variety of subjects relating to law and technology in its broadest sense and from multiple perspectives. The Centre encourages multidisciplinarity, providing the richest and most comprehensive approach to research and policy-making. It seeks to develop a national and international network of associated researchers and institutions, both in law and in many other domains, and serve as a nexus for partnership building and collaborative scholarship.
Director: Florian Martin-Bariteau
CGA Ontario Tax & International Business Research Centre
The CGA Tax Research Centre promotes research in Canadian federal and provincial taxation and in international tax law. The Centre sponsors the publication of research and tax law and policy, provides a forum for national and international conferences on tax law, and contributes to the development of tax policy and related areas of administration. It participates in academic and professional forums on the domestic and international tax scene and acts as a conduit for communication with various governmental agencies.
Director: Vern Krishna
Human Rights Research and Education Centre
The Human Rights Research and Education Centre strives to bring together educators, researchers and students from other disciplines to approach issues surrounding human rights from a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective, both in order to respect such rights and to explore that which they require in a complex, interconnected world. The HRREC benefits from a bilingual and bijuridical environment, and is the only institutional human rights research centre located in the National Capital Region. The Centre fosters research, teaching and outreach partnerships, with academic units, governmental and civil society organizations.
Director: John Packer
Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics
Breakthroughs in the health sciences offer tremendous hope to patients and the public. But with progress, new sets of legal, regulatory and ethical challenges emerge. The interdisciplinary Centre for Health Law, Policy & Ethics is a hub for the generation of new ideas and evidence and the development and dissemination of interdisciplinary research designed to tackle pressing health, health care and health system issues.
Director: Colleen Flood
Open Air: The Open African Innovation Research Network
Open AIR is a unique collaborative network of researchers spread across 14 African countries, Canada, and elsewhere answering two overarching questions: (i) how can open collaborative innovation help businesses scale up and seize the new opportunities of a global knowledge economy?; and (ii) which intellectual property (IP) and associated knowledge governance systems will best ensure that the social and economic benefits of innovation are shared inclusively across society as a whole? Open AIR’s primary goal is to uncover new insights to ease tensions between IP and access to knowledge. Specifically, it aims to solve a problem at the heart of IP and innovation policy: how to reconcile tensions between appropriation and access, excluding and sharing, and competing and collaborating.
Director: Jeremy de Beer
International Law Group
The uOttawa Faculty of Law is one of Canada's most prominent international law faculties. Located in the heart of Canada's capital city, the law school is at the geographic and intellectual centre of international law, as it is practiced in Canada. By positioning itself at the centre of international law teaching and research, the law school attracts a dynamic international law faculty, drawing on the rich academic, professional and governmental resources of the nation's capital and on visiting academics and practitioners from around the world. The law school’s international law group consists of professors with a rich level of practical and academic experience in the field who offer a comprehensive catalogue of some 30 international law-related courses in English and French, supplemented by numerous established internships, research projects and moot court competitions.
Law and Social Justice Group
Boasting nearly 50 professors from the Common Law and Civil Law Sections of the Faculty of Law, the Law and Social Justice Group engages in analysis and critique of the role of law in the development and maintenance of social, political and economic inequality. This critical perspective focuses in particular on historically marginalized groups such as women; those facing socio-economic disadvantage; immigrants and refugees; linguistic, ethnic, religious and racial minorities; aboriginal peoples; those with mental and physical disabilities; sexual minorities; the young and the aged. Social Justice professors offer courses that critically examine law’s implication in constructing and maintaining historic and current social, political and economic inequalities, and law’s potential and limitations as an instrument of redistributive and egalitarian social, economic and political change.
Public Law Group
The Common Law Section has one of the largest and strongest concentrations of public law specialists in Canada. The members of the Public Law Group engage in ground-breaking research and teaching across the many fields of Canadian public law including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, federalism and the division of powers, the unwritten constitution, administrative law, minority language rights, aboriginal peoples, immigration and refugee law, labour law, criminal law and human rights. As the only law faculty in the nation’s capital, the group enjoys unparalleled access to Parliament, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Courts, and the Department of Justice as well as numerous administrative agencies and government ministries. Members of the Public Law Group are frequently called upon to provide expert advice and commentary to courts, law-makers, the public service and the media.
The Refugee Hub
The Refugee Hub delivers core programming in the area of refugee law and policy, and supports, promotes, celebrates, and brings together the many refugee law and policy initiatives at the University of Ottawa. The University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law has become a prominent centre for refugee law studies and migrant-rights advocacy, with a large and growing number of faculty experts, campus-based groups, practical learning opportunities, and other unique initiatives. The Refugee Hub builds on this foundation with dedictated programming and helps to strengthen our community by supporting and publicizing the events and achievements of its affiliates, and facilitating collaboration within the Faculty of Law as well as across faculties and the broader Ottawa community.
Directors: Jennifer Bond & Emily Bates
Global Strategy Lab
The Global Strategy Lab brings cutting-edge science and scholarship to bear on how global institutions, instruments and initiatives are designed to better address the most pressing global challenges related to transnational health threats and social inequalities. The Lab focuses on three priorities: (i) generating evidence about different global strategies including when, how and why they can be used to tackle threats; (ii) developing new analytic, empirical and big data methods for evaluating complex global strategies and using them to draw new insights about how to implement global agreements, goals and policies; and (iii) translating research into evidence-based collective action by working with governments, civil society organizations and international agencies in developing their global strategies and training the next generation of strategic thinkers and leaders in global governance, law and politics.
Director: Steven J. Hoffman
Ticket Defence Program
The Ticket Defence Program is a community-based organization that, in partnership with the Common Law Faculty at the University of Ottawa, provides legal information and basic legal services to homeless people and people who are street-involved. Its main goal is to challenge the application of laws that are unjust to this already vulnerable segment of the population, and provide representation before the provincial courthouse.
Director: Suzanne Bouclin
The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program
The uOttawa Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) brings together sponsorship experts, pro-bono lawyers, law students, and community organizations to offer direct support to Canadians seeking to sponsor refugees. The SSP has three primary components: (i) a matching program, which provides sponsor groups with direct support from a pro-bono lawyer and law students; (ii) a training program that trains lawyers and law students on the completion of sponsorships, and provides ongoing support for their work through sponsorship experts; and (iii) a public information program, which provides Canadians with easy-to-understand materials regarding sponsorships.
Director: Jennifer Bond
The University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project
The University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project (UORAP) seeks to address key access to justice concerns following the 2012 changes to Canada’s refugee system. UORAP has developed resources and delivered training to over 300 community workers in 6 major refugee-hosting cities in Canada, and continues to research access to justice in the new Canadian refugee system.
Director: Emily Bates
Académie pour l’excellence en rédaction juridique
The Académie pour l’excellence en rédaction juridique aims to promote the French language at the heart of the legal profession and to provide students in the French Common Law Program and the Programme de droit canadien (PDC) with the necessary resources to improve their skills in legal writing. The Académie offers numerous workshops throughout the year to help students develop their written advocacy skills and learn the intricacies of drafting legal memoranda, decision commentaries, and even how to prepare for law exams.
Legal Writing Academy
The Legal Writing Academy is dedicated to improving legal writing in English. The Academy integrates practical writing instruction throughout all three years of legal study. Common Law English Program students gain experience with real-life writing demands through credited writing courses within the formal curriculum, module units integrated into first-year and upper-year substantive courses, a workshop series open to all students, and peer-mentoring sessions. Academy professors include the founders and experienced lawyers with a passion for writing and writing pedagogy.
Director: Ellen Zweibel
Business Law Clinic
The University of Ottawa Business Law Clinic (BLC) is Canada’s first bilingual and bijural program dedicated to providing pro bono business-oriented legal services. The BLC assists startups, SMEs, non-profit organizations, and individuals who cannot afford a lawyer. The BLC works with experienced practitioners, who supervise upper year law students in the delivery of services in the following areas: corporate/commercial law, intellectual property, employment, basic tax, charities, and commercial arbitration. The BLC also produces public education seminars on relevant business law topics in order to improve access to basic legal information for its constituents. The BLC takes clients from across the country, but focuses on the underserviced regions of Eastern and Northern Ontario.
Global Health Law Clinic
In September of 2015, the uOttawa Global Strategy Lab launched the Global Health Law Clinic, a one-of-a-kind experiential learning opportunity for students at the University of Ottawa who are interested in gaining exposure to global health law and policy issues. The Clinic is a two-term, six-unit course in which teams of 4-5 student fellows work as real-time consultants for carefully selected public service clients to help them articulate a global health challenge they are facing. Throughout the course, student fellows develop a better understanding of a variety of problems, identify creative solutions, and assess implementation considerations.
Directors: Steven Hoffman & Lathika Sritharan
Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)
CIPPIC’s mandate is to advocate in the public interest on diverse issues arising at the intersection of law and technology. In pursuit of its public mandate, CIPPIC regularly provides expert testimony before Canadian parliamentary committees, participates in the regulatory activities of various Canadian quasi-judicial bodies such as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, appears at all levels of Canada’s judicial system, and participates in various international Internet governance fora. In addition, CIPPIC advises clients (organizational and otherwise) on matters with a public interest dimension, provides public education resources on various legal issues and, by its location at the Faculty of Law, provides direct training and education for law students.
Director: David Fewer
University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic
The uOttawa Community Legal Clinic provides legal services to the Ottawa community, including providing legal education, advocacy and law reform for, and on behalf of, people of low income, members of historically disadvantaged groups, and students. Staffed by lawyers and law students, the Clinic provides legal advice, and representation at court for a variety of criminal, family and tenant-related matters. It also assists women who have been victims of violence in obtaining compensation. Law students working as caseworkers gain practical legal skills and court/tribunal experience while making a contribution to the Ottawa community.
Director: Louise Toone
uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic
The uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic fills a major gap in Canada’s environmental capacity with a long-needed public interest environmental law organization in the nation’s capital. It is well-positioned to serve the environmental law and policy interests of both local and national clientele, including environmental, aboriginal and community groups in both official languages. The clinic draws on the University’s strengths in environmental law, and related fields such as economics, science and public health, and on Ecojustice’s strengths in law, policy and science. Conceived as a problem-based educational model, the Clinic is helping to train the next generation of environmental law and policy leaders, while encouraging students and faculty to become more involved in community service work.
Director: Josh Ginsberg
The Common Law Section’s Research Chairs are leaders in their fields whose expertise is recognized nationally and internationally. Research Chairs are supported institutionally so that they can continue to engage in ground-breaking research and lead major projects that contribute to the education of our students, while training and mentoring future researchers and generating opportunities for collaboration with other researchers.
Canada Research Chairs
Michael Geist – Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law (Tier 1)
Dr. Michael Geist explores myriad legal, policy and governance questions surrounding the Internet and e-commerce, with an emphasis on copyright, privacy, communications and the digital economy. He asks whether Canada’s current digital economy legal frameworks can adequately foster public confidence by addressing next-generation Internet and technology issues. Dr. Geist’s research influences the development of recommendations for Canada’s digital economy strategy and its governance based on the emerging technological and legal landscape. It also results in increased public participation regarding digital economy policy.
Ian Kerr – Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology (Tier 1)
Dr. Ian Kerr examines various ethical and legal questions of governance affecting our lives in two different areas: the regulation of on-line conduct, and the regulation of technologies that create challenges for existing legal, regulatory and social structures. His investigations relate specifically to anonymous communication, the emerging role of on-line service providers, and the automation of e-commerce. Dr. Kerr’s research has proven invaluable to scholars across the social sciences, humanities and applied sciences. It also provides businesses and policy makers worldwide with the information tools they need to implement novel regulatory strategies that improve on-line communication and commerce.
Teresa Scassa – Canada Research Chair in Information Law (Tier 2)
Dr. Teresa Scassa studies legal issues within the dramatically changing information technology environment. She examines the rights of individuals to make use of the trademarks of others for the purposes of critical, artistic or other forms of expression. She also looks at legal issues raised when ordinary citizens participate in the creation of information maps. These digital projects place different types of information in geographical contexts, and raise challenging intellectual property, privacy and ethical issues. Dr. Scassa’s research provides insights into how our modern information society can move forward ethically and responsibly in order to foster human communication and knowledge dissemination.
University Research Chairs
Constance Backhouse – University Research Chair on Sexual Assault Legislation in Canada
Dr. Constance Backhouse researches the historical and sociological context for the evolution of sexual assault law and its social ramifications in Canada. The criminal cases litigated from 1950 to 1975 were the direct precursor to a series of legislative and judicial reforms on sexual assault, many of which occurred in response to the demands for reform from the second wave of the Canadian women's movement. Her research allows us to reflect on the social impact of the recent rape law reforms in Canada: What were the objectives? What side effects may have occurred? Have the changes gone too far, impoverishing the rights of accused men and privileging those who complain of sexual assault? Or do the verdicts seem similar to those at the turn of the 20th century? Have the reforms produced little real change?
Colleen Flood – University Research Chair in Health Law and Policy
Professor Flood’s research program aims to provide courts and government decision makers with a greater understanding of the implications and complexities of a two-tiered health system. She is building on her existing platform of scholarship to create a database of all extant laws and policies impacting two-tier health care in all 13 Canadian provinces and in Australia, France and the Netherlands. Professor Flood seeks to identify optimal regulation and policy for ensuring that physicians have sufficient incentive to treat publicly-funded patients on a timely and equitable basis. Her comparative research analyzes the impact of alternative ways of progressively financing health care to respond to key policy objectives like access, quality and cost.
Tracey Lindberg – University Research Chair in Indigenous Laws, Legal Orders and Traditions
Professor Lindberg’s research program builds upon the legal philosophies and principles of four participatory groups which retain and practice their inherent Indigenous laws, legal orders and traditions. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as electoral promises made by the current Canadian government, necessitate research that defines the parameters of self-determination, community, and political and legal institutions. Researching and unpacking the inherent laws, legal orders and traditions that support and strengthen Indigenous governance will allow Professor Lindberg to study, understand and write about the notion of inherency and laws embedded in the land of Indigenous Nations, Communities and Societies. Bolstered by her international stature as a researcher and writer, the program represents a unique opportunity for academic comparative analysis of Indigenous laws of governance and citizenship.
Endowed and Sponsored Research Chairs
Angela Cameron – The Shirley Greenberg Professor of Women and the Legal Profession
The Greenberg Chair is designed to strengthen teaching, research and mentorship with respect to feminist perspectives on the law. It is also designed to maintain and foster links between women in the legal academy and women in the legal profession.
Jennifer Chandler – Bertram Loeb Chair in Organ and Tissue Donation
The Bertram Loeb Chair at the University of Ottawa is the first academic chair in the world dedicated to research in the field of organ and tissue donation. Initiated in 2006 by its benefactor Bertram Loeb and the Bertram Loeb Organ and Tissue Donation Institute, the Chair promotes and supports an innovative multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the issues surrounding organ donation and transplantation. An expert in the study of the law and ethics of emerging biomedical technology, Professor Jennifer Chandler is known nationally and internationally for her ground-breaking work in the areas of organ and tissue donation law, ethics and policy, as well as the legal and ethical implications of the brain sciences.
Debra Steger – Hyman Soloway Chair in Business and Trade Law
Professor Debra Steger conducts research in the areas of international trade, investment, dispute settlement, international arbitration and the governance of international organizations. Her research is focused on global economic governance with an emphasis on the improvement and reform of international economic organizations, international trade and investment agreements, and dispute settlement mechanisms, such as the WTO and investment arbitration. She is a member of the editorial advisory board of the Journal for International Economic Law, the program advisory committee of the Canadian Ditchley Foundation, and the International Scientific Review Committee, National Centre of Competence in Research Trade Regulation, Swiss National Science Foundation. During the Uruguay Round, she was the Senior Negotiator for Canada on Dispute Settlement and the Establishment of the World Trade Organization as well as the Principal Counsel to the Government of Canada for all of the Uruguay Round agreements. She also served as General Counsel of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.