"If ideas, conceptions, notions, theories, systems are instrumental to an active reorganization of the given environment, to a removal of some specific trouble and perplexity, then the test of their validity and value lies in accomplishing this work. If they succeed in their office, they are reliable, sound, valid, good, true. If they fail to clear up confusion, eliminate defects, if they increase confusion, uncertainty and evil when they are acted upon, then are they truly false. Confirmation, corroboration, verification lie in works, consequences. By their fruits ye shall know them."  John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy

Applied legal studies is an approach to thinking about and understanding law as a set of ideas, articulated as rules, that inform- and sometimes “organize”- myriad social practices and relationships (relationships between parents and children, land use and development, and the social behaviours impacted by the criminal law e.g.). At the same time, the content of legal rules and doctrines is informed by, and changes in response to, social, technological, and ontological developments arising outside of the law. Applied Legal Studies refers broadly to empirical and theoretical research exploring different aspects of this constantly evolving dynamic between law and society.


The Applied Legal Studies Research Group (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.


Braun, Joan. BA (U. Viv); LLB (UBC); MSW (UBC); LLM (UBC), Assistant Professor, Bora Laskin School of Law

Joan's research explores how laws address social and legal issues relevant to older adults. She applies a socio-legal perspective and uses qualitative research methods in her work. She is currently involved in several research projects that explore issues that arise in the context of elder abuse or where the older adult has dementia. Joan’s research on dementia and mental capacity incorporates theoretical perspectives drawn from feminist and disability scholarship.


  • Current research interests/activity: 

Health law; criminal law; guardianship law; human rights law; elder abuse; dementia and mental capacity; law and aging.

  • Selected publications

Access Joan’s publications here.

Clough, Beverly; BA; LLB; LLM; PhD (Uiversity of Manchester); Associate Professor, Leeds University

Dr. Clough's current work develops her thinking about the spatio-temporality of mental capacity law, including looking at ways that the concept of home is constructed and deployed in legal frameworks. She is also working on issues around sexual consent and mental capacity, engaging with critical disability studies and interrogating the ways that law in this area impacts on the lives of people with learning disabilities and dementia.


  • Current research interests/activity: 

Mental capacity law; critical disability studies; new materialisms; relationality; spatial justice; medical law and ethics; care theory; vulnerability theory; feminist legal theory.

  • Selected publications

Access Beverley's publications here.

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

  • 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


Surrey Office: SUR 5170

Hall, Margaret I.; BA, Hons. (UBC), LLB (Queen’s), LLM (UBC), PhD (UBC); Professor, Simon Fraser University

Margaret I. Hall joined Simon Fraser University in 2019 as the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia Chair in Applied Legal Studies.  She is the Director of the MA in Applied Legal Studies Program at Simon Fraser, and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at Thompson Rivers University, and in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research (Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology).


  • Current research interests/activity: 

Tort Law; Mental Capacity and Decision-Making; Legal Theory (Autonomy, Vulnerability, and Suffering in the Law); Medical Assistance in Dying; Law and Dementia; Will-making and Family Agreements

  • Selected publications

Access Margaret's publications here.


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

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.



  • Selected publications:

Access Deborah's publications here.


Purser, Kelly; BA/Bachelor of Laws (University of New England), Hons. (UBC), PhD (University of New England); Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology

Dr. Purser joined the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2011. She is an active member of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research ('ACHLR'). She co-established and co-leads the Planning for Healthy Ageing Program, nested within ACHLR.


  • Current research interests/activity: 

Capacity assessment; the intersection between legal and health professionals assessing capacity; access to justice where there has been an abuse of enduring documents; elder law; ageing; estate planning; succession law; and trusts and equity.

  • Selected publications

Access Kelly's publications here.


Applied Legal Theory 

  • “Beyond the King’s Peace: The Nature and Role of Intent in the Intentional and Direct Interference Torts” (Margaret I. Hall)
  • “The Autonomous Subject at End of Life: Medical Assistance in Dying” (Margaret I Hall)
  • “Responding to Coercive Control in Intimate Partner and Family Relationships: Criminal Law, Domestic Violence Legislation, and the Tort of False Imprisonment” (Margaret I. Hall)
  • “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Article 12, ‘Safeguarding’, and the Right to Legal Capacity” (Margaret I. Hall)

Empirical Legal Research 

  • “Mental (in)Capacity in the Context of Abuse and Neglect” (Deborah O’Connor, Margaret I. Hall, Joan Braun, Alison Leaney, Krista James, Kelly Purser, Rachelle Hole)
  • “Family Justice and Mental Incapacity: The Significance of Family in Judicial and Medical Determinations of Older Adults’ Decision-Making Ability” (Margaret I. Hall)