Welcome to the Applied Legal Studies Research Group

What is applied legal studies research?

Applied legal studies research is an approach to legal research and analysis that focuses on current and potential applications of law in the social world, together with the ways in which social change (including new ways of understanding old problems) informs legal rules, structures and practice, and indicates directions for future reform.  Applied legal studies research is not subject limited, therefore, and the applied legal studies research group is open to scholars and legal practitioners with interests in a wide range of legal subjects and issues.  Indeed, the applied legal studies approach recognises the interdisciplinary nature of law in the social world (“law in action” as opposed to “law on the books”), in which laws of different kinds are deeply intertwined with one another and with different forms of social practice.

About Us: The Applied Legal Studies Research Group

The Applied Legal Studies Research Group (ALSRG) was initiated in October 2019 at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.  ALSRG is led by Dr. Robert Gordon, Professor in the School of Criminology and Dr. Margaret Isabel Hall, BC Notaries Chair in Applied Legal Studies and Professor in the School of Criminology.

ALSRG provides a hub for applied legal research generation, network building, and knowledge exchange between researchers, legal professionals, and legal ”users” in the private and public sectors.

The following comprise the initial focus subject areas within ALSRG:

Issues in Private Law

  • Property
  • Contracts
  • Tort

End of Life and Incapacity Planning 

  • Medical Assistance in Dying
  • Wills and Estates and Incapacity Planning
  • Supported and Substitute Decision Making

Law and Population Health

  • Law and Aging
  • Mental Capacity and Mental Health
  • Access to Justice
  • Vulnerability
The activities of the ALSRG are not limited to these focus subjects, and new areas of research focus may be added from time to time.
Contact: Margaret Hall - margaret_hall@sfu.ca


Gordon, Robert M.; BA (La Trobe), MA (SFU), PhD (UBC); Professor

  • Current research interests/activity

Health law, including mental health law; adult guardianship and adult protection law, including the law relating to public guardians and trustees; supported and substitute decision making; abuse and neglect of the elderly; medical assistance in dying; commercial and international attacks on academic intergrity.

R. Gordon, 2020 Annotated British Columbia Incapacity Planning Legislation, Adult Guardianship Act and Related Statutes, Thomson Reuters Canada

Email: rgordon@sfu.ca

Surrey Office: SUR 5170


Hall, Margaret I.; BA, Hons. (UBC), LLB (Queen’s), LLM (UBC), PhD (UBC); Professor; BC Notaries Chair; Director, Applied Legal Studies Graduate Program

BC Notaries Chair in Applied Legal Studies, School of Criminology

Email: mihall@sfu.ca


  • Selected publications

MI Hall (forthcoming 2020, co-author) Law & Disability in Canada: Cases & Materials (Toronto: Lexis Nexis Canada, 2020)

MI Hall (forthcoming 2020) “Law and Dementia: Family Context and the Experience of Dementia in Old Age” B. Clough & J. Herring, eds. Disability Care and Family Law (London, UK: Routledge).

MI Hall “Situating dementia in the experience of old age: reconstructing legal response” (2019) 66 International Journal of Law and Psychiatry Article 101468.

MI Hall, (co-author) Canadian Tort Law, 11th ed. (Toronto: Lexis Nexis Canada, 2018).

MI Hall (Editor) The Canadian Law of Obligations: Private Law for the 21st Century (Lexis Nexis Canada: 2018).

MI Hall “Systemic Wrongdoing and the Liability of Public Authorities: Two Case Studies” (coauthor) in M.I. Hall, ed. The Canadian Law of Obligations: Private Law for the 21st Century (Lexis Nexis Canada: 2018).

MI Hall (Co-author) The Law of Nuisance in Canada, 2d ed. (Toronto: Lexis Nexis Canada, 2016).

MI Hall “Theorising the Institutional Wrongdoer: The Role of Tort Doctrine” (2016) 53(4) Alberta Law Review 995 (Special Issue on Recent Development in Tort Law, in Honour of Lewis Klar)

MI Hall “The Vulnerability Jurisdiction: Equity, Parens Patriae, and the Inherent Jurisdiction of the Court” (2016) 2 Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law 185.

MI Hall “Mental Health Law for the Old: Defining the Category, Identifying the Issues”” in C. Flood and J. Chandler, eds. Law and Mind: Mental Health Law and Policy in Canada (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2016).

MI Hall “Dementia, decision-making and the (adult) guardianship paradigm: Bentley v Maplewood Seniors Care Society” (2015) 1 Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law.

MI Hall  “Guardianship for the Old: Autonomy, Dementia, and the Guardianship Complex” in I. Doron, C. Foster & J. Herring, eds. Law, Ethics and Dementia (Oxford, UK: Hart Publications, 2014).

MI Hall “Old age” (or, do we need a critical theory of law and aging?)” (2014) 35 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 1.

MI Hall (Co-author) “Elder law and conflicts of interest in the United States and Canada”, co-author, J. Pietsch (2013) 117 Penn State Law Review 1191

MI Hall “Mental Capacity in the (Civil) Law: Capacity, Autonomy and Vulnerability” (2012) 58 McGill Law Journal 1.

MI Hall “Material Exploitation and the Autonomy Ideal: The Role of Equity Theory in Adult Protection Legislation” (2008) 5 Elder Law Review (Australia) Article 9.

 MI Hall (Co-author) “Assessing Capacity Within a Context of Abuse or Neglect” (2009) 21 Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect 56.

MI Hall “Capacity, Vulnerability, Risk and Consent: Personhood in the Law” in D. O’Connor, ed. Dementia, personhood and decision making: examining the interface (London: Jessica Kingsley Press, 2009).

MI Hall “Law and Aging: An Equity Theory Approach” in I. Doron, ed. Theories on Law and Ageing: The Jurisprudence of Elder Law (Berlin: Springer Publications, 2008).

MI Hall (Co-author) “Equity Matters: Doing Fairness in the Context of Family Caregiving” (2007) Canadian Journal on Aging 26 (Supp). 4 2006.

MI Hall “Institutional Tortfeasors: Systemic Negligence and the Class Action” (2006) 2 Tort Law Journal.

MI Hall “Equitable Fraud: Material Exploitation in Domestic Settings” (2006) 4 Elder Law Review (Australia).

MI Hall “Equity and The Older Adult: Undue Influence and Unconscionability” in A. Soden, ed. Advising the Older Client (Toronto: Lexis Nexus Butterworths, 2005).

MI Hall “Duty, Causation and Third Party Perpetrators: The Bonnie Mooney Case” (2005) 50 McGill Law Journal 597.

MI Hall “Duty to Protect, Duty to Control, and the Duty to Warn” (2003) 82(3) Canadian Bar Review 645.

MI Hall “Care For Life: Private Care Agreements Between Older Adults and Friends or Family Members” (2003) 2 Elder Law Review (Australia).

MI Hall “Intuitive Fiduciaries: The Equitable Structure of Family Life” (2003) 19 Canadian Journal of Family Law 345.

MI Hall “Child neglect and the right to protection: Z and Others v. United Kingdom” (2002) 24(4) Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 448.

MI Hall “Care Agreements: Property in Exchange for the Promise of Care for Life, The British Columbia Law Institute Study” (2002) 81 Reform (Australia) 29.

MI Hall “The Care Agreement: Transfer of Property in Exchange for the Promise of Care and Support” (2002) 21 Estates, Trusts and Pensions Journal Vol. 21 209.

MI Hall “Responsibility Without Fault: The Rule From Bazley v. Curry” (2000) 79(3) Canadian Bar Review 474.

MI Hall “The Liability of Public Authorities for the Abuse of Children in Institutional Care: Common Law Developments in Canada and the United Kingdom” (2000) 14 (3) International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 281.

MI Hall “After Waterhouse: Vicarious Liability and the Tort of Institutional Abuse” (2000) 22 (2) Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 159.


  • Selected projects (current)

MI Hall (Co-applicant) “Promoting relational autonomy for people with late stage dementia living in dementia care units” SSHRC Insight Grant

MI Hall (Principal applicant) “Assessing the Human Rights Remedy After Moore v British Columbia: A Qualitative Research Study” Law Foundation of British Columbia

MI Hall (Principal applicant) “Adult Protection: A Qualitative Research Study Examining Implementations/Awareness of BC’s Adult Guardianship Act” Foundation for Legal Research

MI Hall (Co-applicant) “Understanding and improving family agreements: reducing risk of failure, preventing elder abuse and facilitating access to justice” Collaborative Seed Funding/Australian Centre for Health Law Research (QUT Brisbane) 


  • Current Graduate Student Supervision

Alexis Haig, MA Gerontology, Exploring Health Care and Personal Care Decision-Making under Representation Agreements: the Lived Experiences of 'Representatives' of Older Adults with Dementia

A lack of research currently exists on how the Representation Agreement Act - planning legislation unique to British Columbia - operates for older adults living dementia in health care and personal care situations they face. Furthermore, little is known about how 'representatives,’ designated in representation agreements for older adults with dementia, experience health care and personal care decision-making in their role. This thesis aims to explore the lived experiences of people designated as representatives in health care and/or personal care decision-making for older adults with dementia.

Dr. Deborah O'Connor, BSW (University of Windsor); MSW (University of Toronto); PhD (Wilfred Laurier University) Professor

Dr. O'Connor has over 30 years of direct professional Social Work practice working in the field of aging and health care, including maintaining a small, ongoing practice providing consultation on complex cases, especially when there are issues related to decision-making capacity and/or abuse, neglect or self-neglect.  She is the founding director, and current co-director of the Centre for Research on Personhood and Dementia (CRPD) — an interdisciplinary research centre focused on understanding and supporting people with dementia and their family care partners using a lens that recognizes that the dementia experience is both a biomedical AND a social condition.  Dr. O'Connor is also a founding member of the Citizenship and Dementia: International Research Network.


Email: deborah.oconnor@ubc.ca

  • Below is a list of her selected publications:


O’Connor, D. & Braun, J. (under contract with Routledge Inc.) Decision-making and capacity issues within community-based practice with older adults: a relational approach for understanding and assessing. Expected delivery date: September 2020.

Bartlett, R & D. O’Connor (2010) Broadening the Dementia Debate: Toward Social Citizenship. London: Policy Press. (50/50 co-author)

O’Connor, D. and Purves, B. (eds) (2009) Decision-making, Personhood and Dementia: Exploring the Interface. London: Jessica Kingsley Press.



O’Connor, D. & Nedlund, A-C (guest co-editors) (2016) Citizenship and Dementia Special Edition, Dementia: International J. of Social Research & Practice 15(3)



O’Connor, D. (2020) Practicing social citizenship in a context of compromised decision-making capacity: Realizing and Protecting Human Rights. Elder Law Review 12 


O’Connor, D., Mann, J., & Wiersma, E. (2018) Stigma, Discrimination and Agency: Diagnostic disclosure as an everyday practice shaping social citizenship. Journal of Aging studies, 44, 45 - 51

O’Connor, D. & Kelson, E (2018) Boomer Matters: Exploring the needs and experiences of aging boomers using the emotional health program based in a senior’s community centre. J. of Gerontological Social Work, 61(1), 61-77.

Wiersma, E., O’Connor, D, Loiselle, L., Hickman, K. Heibein, B., Hounam, B. & Mann, J. (2016) Creating Space for Citizenship: The Impact of Group Structure on Validating the Voices of People with Dementia Dementia: International Journal of social research and practice 15(3).

Phinney, A., Kelson, E., Baumbusch, J., O’Connor, D., & Purves, B. (2016) Walking in the Neighbourhood: Performing Social Citizenship in Dementia. Dementia: International Journal of social research and practice 15(3)

Small, J. Hulko, W., O’Connor, D. & Drance, E. (2016) Verbal and nonverbal indicators of quality of communication between care staff and residents in ethnoculturally and linguistically diverse long-term care settings," Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology.

Chan, SM. & O’Connor D. (2014) Personhood: Including the Chinese Person with Dementia in Research, Policy and Practice. Journal of Ethnic And Cultural Diversity in Social Work (1531-3204).

Brondani MA, MacEntee M, O’Connor D. (2011) E-mail as a data collection tool when interviewing older adults.International Journal of Qualitative Methods 10(3): 221-230.

O’Connor, D. (2010) Personhood and Dementia: Toward a Relational Framework for Assessing Decisional Capacity. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice,5(3), 22-30.

O’Connor, D. (2010) Understanding and Assessing (In) Capacity: Promoting Social Work Competence. Perspectives, 32(3).

O’Connor, D., Phinney, A. & Hulko, W. (2010) Dementia at the Intersections: Exploring social location in the dementia experience. Journal of Aging Studies 24(4)

O’Connor, D., Hall, M. & Donnelly, M. (2009) Assessing capacity in a context of abuse. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect.

Chan, S.M. & OConnor, D. (2008) Finding a Voice: The Experiences of Chinese Family Members participating in Family Support Groups . Social Work with Groups. 31(2), 117 – 135

Sims-Gould, J. & O’Connor, D. (2008) Family Caregiver Support: Identifying the Role of a Provincial Organization in the Provision of Regionally Based Support. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 26(2), 107 - 121.

Phinney, A., Chaudhury, H., O’Connor, D. (2007) Doing as much as I can: Exploring meaningful activity in dementia. Aging and Mental Health. 11(4), 384 – 393.

O’Connor, D. (2007) Developing a caregiver identity: the positioning process. Journal of Aging Studies. 21 , 165-174

O’Connor, D., Phinney, A., Smith, A., Small, J., Purves, B., Perry, J., Donnelly, M., Drance, E., Chaudhury, H., Beattie, L. (2007) Dementia Care: Developing a research agenda for broadening the vision. Dementia: International Journal of social research and practice 6(1), 121 – 143.

Bartlett, R. L. & O’Connor, D. (2007) From Personhood to Citizenship: broadening the lens for dementia practice and research. Journal of Aging Studies 21, 107 – 118.

Shemerani-Shakir, F. & O’Connor, D. (2006) Aging in a foreign country: Voices of Iranian women aging in Canada. Journal of Women and Aging,

Orr, A. and O’Connor, D. (2005) Dimensions of Power: Older women’s experiences with electroconvulsive therapy. Women and Aging. 17 (1/2): 19 – 36.

O’Connor, D., J. Young, and M. Saul. (2004) Living with Paraplegia: Tensions and Contradictions. Health and Social Work 29(3): 207-219.

O’Connor, D. and B. O’Neill (2004) Toward Social Justice: Teaching Qualitative Research. Journal of Social Work Education. 24(3/4)

O’Connor, D. (2002) Toward Empowerment: ReVisioning Family Support Groups. Social Work with Groups 25(4): 37-56.

Freeman, A. and O’Connor, D. (2002) Seen but not heard: Older women’s experience of hospitalization. Canadian Social Work Review 19(2):65-84/

Perry, J. and D. O’Connor (2002) Preserving Personhood: (Re)Membering the spouse with dementia.. Family Relations.

O’Connor, D. L. (2001) Journeying the Quagmire: Exploring the discourses that shape qualitative research. AFFILIA: Journal of Women and Social Work 16(2) pp 138-158.

O’Connor, D. L. (1999) Living with a Memory-Impaired Spouse: (Re)Cognizing the Experience. Canadian Journal on Aging. 18(2) pp.211-235

O’Connor, D. L. (1995) Caring for a Memory-Impaired Spouse: A Gender Sensitive Perspective. Journal of Women and Aging 7(3)

O’Connor, D. L. (1995) Supporting Spousal Caregivers: Exploring the Meaning of Service Use. Families in Society 76(5).

O'Connor, D. (1993) The Impact of Dementia: A Self Psychological Perspective. Journal of Gerontological Social Work 20(3/4).

Gebotys, R., D. O'Connor and K. Mair. (1992) Public Perceptions of Elder Physical Mistreatment. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect. 4(½).

O'Connor, D. and D. Radford. (1987) Special Care: Who Needs It? Journal of Long Term Care, 23(2).


Book Chapters

O’Connor, D. & Mann, J. (2019) The meaning of ‘collaboration’: a candid conversation between a researcher and a dementia advocate . Nedlunds, A.C., Bartlett, R. & Clarke, C. (eds) Everyday Citizenship and People with Dementia. London: Routledge

Small, J., Chan S. M, Drance, E., Globerman, J, Ho, L., Hulko, W., O'Connor, D., Perry, J. & Stern, L. (2017) Verbal and Nonverbal Turn-taking Behaviours of Care Staff and Residents in Linguistically Diverse Long-term Care Settings

O'Connor, D., & Kelson, E. (2009). Personhood, dementia and the use of formal support services: exploring the decision-making process. In D. O'Connor, & B. Purves. (Eds.) Decision-making, personhood and dementia: Examining the interface. London: Jessica Kingsley Press.

O'Connor, D., & Donnelly, M. (2009). Confronting the challenges of capacity assessments: Dementia in the context of abuse." In D.O'Connor, & B. Purves. (Eds.) Decision-making, personhood and dementia: Examining the interface. London: Jessica Kingsley Press.

O’Connor, D., & Purves, B. (2009). Decision-making, personhood and dementia: Mapping the terrain. In D. O'Connor. & B/Purves. (Eds.) Decision-making, personhood and dementia: Examining the interface. London: Jessica Kingsley Press.

O’Connor, D., Purves, B., & Downs, M. (2009). Decision-making and dementia: Toward a social model of understanding. In D. O'Connor, & B. Purves. (Eds.) Decision-making, personhood and dementia: Examining the interface. London: Jessica Kingsley Press.

Baldwin, C., & Capstick, A with Phinney, A., Purves, B., O’Connor, D., Chaudhury, & Bartlett, R. (2007). Conceptualizing personhood in dementia. In C. Baldwin, & A. Capstick. (Eds.) Tom Kitwood on Dementia: A reader and critical commentary (pp. 171-188). London: Jessica Kingsley Press.

O'Connor, D. (2003). Anti-oppressive practice with older adults: A feminist post-structural perspective. In W. Shearer (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on anti-oppressive practice (pp. 183-199). Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

O’Connor D. L.(1999) Constructing Community Care: (Re)Storying Support. In S. Neysmith (ed) Critical Issues for Future Social Work Practice with Aging Persons. New York: Columbia University Press.