Michelle Lawrence

Michelle Lawrence
Associate Professor and Director, Access to Justice Centre of Excellence
Faculty of Law

BA – Western Ontario (1994), LLB – UVic (1998), LLM – Cambridge (2002) (Pegasus Scholar), MA (Criminology) – SFU (2009), PhD (Criminology) – SFU (2014) (Trudeau Scholar)

Area of expertise

Access to justice, justice innovation, criminal law, evidence, sentencing, substance abuse and mental disorder, relationship violence, police accountability.


I serve as Director of the Access to Justice Centre for Excellence (“ACE”) at the University of Victoria.  ACE is a research centre with a focus on applied research and practical scholarship. It seeks to provide provincial and national leadership in research and teaching related to access to justice. 

My own research focuses on the fields of criminal law, evidence, and sentencing. My work has been published in leading Canadian law and criminology journals, including the Canadian Bar Review, Canadian Criminal Law Review, Criminal Law Quarterly and Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice. I am a primary contributor, with Distinguished Professor Gerry Ferguson and Mr. Justice Michael Dambrot, to Canadian Criminal Jury Instructions. Until recently, I contributed the sentencing law content to the Annual Review of Criminal Law

I hold graduate degrees in law and criminology, including a Masters of Law from the University of Cambridge and Ph.D. (Criminology) from Simon Fraser University. I completed my doctoral work as a Trudeau Scholar. 

Since joining the Faculty of Law in 2013, I have twice been honoured to receive the Terry J. Wuester Teaching Award. I have held two Associate Dean appointments. I previously served as chair of the UVic Senate Committee on Appeals and Associate Director of the FREDA Research Centre on Violence Against Women and Children. I worked closely with former Lam Chair and inaugural ACE director Jerry McHale, Q.C. to found ACE in 2015, and served on the Advisory Board since its inception.

I previously practiced law as a partner at a national law firm. My practice was based in Vancouver and comprised a diverse range of matters, including civil disputes, complex regulatory proceedings and criminal litigation. I worked under the mentorship of leading litigator, Leonard T. Doust, Q.C. I currently sit as an Alternate Chair of the B.C. Review Board.