"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. The ALSRG is organised into the following research clusters:

  • Applied Legal Theory and Doctrine
  • Law and Aging
  • Health Law
  • Property and Land
  • Law and Intimate (including Family) Relationships

Interesting and important intersections exist between these areas, and our hope is that the ALSRG will support research that explores those intersections


We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Robert M. Gordon  BA (La Trobe), MA (SFU), PhD (UBC); Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, to the formation of the Applied Legal Studies Research Group and to Applied Legal Studies at SFU generally.

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

Joan's research focuses on how laws address social and legal issues relevant to older adults, with a particular emphasis on elder abuse and dementia. She applies a socio-legal perspective and uses qualitative research methods in her work.


  • 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

Clough's current work focuses on the spatio-temporality of mental capacity law, the construction of the concept of home in legal frameworks, and issues surrounding sexual consent and mental capacity within critical disability studies.


  • 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.

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 at 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

O'Connor has over 30 years of experience in social work specializing in aging and health care. She is the founding director of the Centre for Research on Personhood and Dementia (CRPD) and 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.