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Michelle Lawrence

Michelle Lawrence (Photo by Robert Buffram)

Trudeau scholar targets drug-induced crime

May 27, 2010

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A lawyer who returned to academia to study how substance-induced psychotic disorders impact criminal responsibility is SFU’s latest Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation scholar.

Michelle Lawrence, a criminology PhD student, is one of 15 recipients of the prestigious scholarship, Canada’s most coveted social sciences and humanities doctoral prize, valued at $180,000. Trudeau scholarships subsidize tuition fees and living and travel expenses while scholars research subjects such as labour, mental health, confl ict resolution and the environment.

Lawrence will focus her research on the legal and clinical treatment of people found to have committed crimes while in a state of substance- induced psychosis. She will also assess alleged Charter violations in cases of voluntary or self-induced intoxication.

Lawrence was called to the bar of British Columbia in 1999 after obtaining a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario in 1994 and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria in 1998.

She joined McCarthy Tétrault LLP in 1998 as an articled student and was made a firm partner in 2008. She took a leave of absence in 2001 to complete a master’s degree at Cambridge and the following year awarded an LL.M. and a Pegasus scholarship.

Lawrence returned to graduate studies and earned a master’s degree at SFU in 2009. She was drawn to graduate work in criminology out of a desire to pursue an interdisciplinary approach to her study of legal phenomena. She hopes to apply the research methodologies of the social sciences to issues traditionally within the purview of lawyers and legal researchers.

Lawrence is the fifth SFU doctoral student to receive the coveted award since it was created in 2002 to honour the late prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

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