Michelle Lawrence

Associate Professor and Director, Access to Justice Centre for Excellence

Michelle Lawrence

Michelle Lawrence

Faculty of Law
University of Victoria
PO Box 1700, STN CSC
Victoria, BC  V8W 2Y2

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 law and criminology journals, including the Canadian Bar Review, Canadian Criminal Law Review, Criminal Law Quarterly and Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and has been cited with approval by the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition, I am a primary contributor, with Distinguished Professor Gerry Ferguson and Mr. Justice Michael Dambrot, to Canadian Criminal Jury Instructions. I previously 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 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 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.


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


  • Canadian Criminal Jury Instructions (Vancouver, BC: Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia) (with G. Ferguson and M. Dambrot) (2021 Update).
  • Canadian Criminal Jury Instructions (Vancouver, BC: Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia) (with G. Ferguson and M. Dambrot) (2020 Update). 
  • Annual Review of Criminal Law 2019 (Toronto, ON: Thomson Reuters, 2020) (with S. Couglan & R. Currie) (responsible for Chapter 5 on Sentencing).

  • “Similar Fact Evidence & Crime Linkage Analysis: In Search of an Empirical Foundation to Support the Identity Inference” (2019) ​24 Cdn Crim LR 5.

  • Annual Review of Criminal Law 2018 (Toronto, ON: Thomson Reuters, 2019 (with S. Couglan & R. Currie) (responsible for Chapter 5 on Sentencing).
  • Annual Review of Criminal Law 2017 (Toronto, ON: Thomson Reuters, 2018) (with S. Couglan & R. Currie) (responsible for Chapter 5 on Sentencing).
  • “Voluntary Intoxication and the Charter: Revisiting the Constitutionality of Section 33.1 of the Criminal Code” (2017) 40:3 Man LJ 389 (Inaugural Special Edition on Canadian Criminal Law).
  • “From Defect to Dangerous: Has the Door Opened for Recognition of an Addition-based Defence in Canadian Criminal Law?” (2017) 59:4 Cdn J Crim & CJ 572.
  • ​"Restitution & Restorative Justice: A Call for the Expansion and Increased Use of Criminal Restitution Orders at Sentencing” in J. Desrosier et al, eds., Réformer le droit criminel au Canada : défis et possibilités / Criminal Law Reform in Canada: Challenges and Possibilities​ (Toronto, ON: Thomson Reuters, 2017). 
  • Annual Review of Criminal Law 2016 (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2017) (with S. Couglan & R. Currie).
  • Annual Review of Criminal Law 2015 ​(Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2016) (with S. Coughlan & G. Ferguson).
  • “Drug-Induced Psychosis: Overlooked Obiter Dicta in Bouchard-Lebrun” (2016) 32 CR (7th) 151.
  • "Looking the Gift Horse in the Mouth: An Examination of the Canadian Approach to Criminal Restitution in cases of Sexual Violence" (2016) 20 C.C.L.R. 209.
  • “Blurred Lines of Intoxication & Insanity: An Examination of the Treatment at Law of Accused Persons Found to have Committed Criminal Acts while in States of Substance-Associated Psychosis, where Intoxication was Voluntary” (2016) 93 Cdn Bar Rev. 1 (with S. N. Verdun-Jones).
  • “Delusions of Justice: Results of Qualitative Research on the Management in British Columbia of Cases Involving Allegations of Substance-Induced Psychosis” (2015) 14 Crim LQ 499 (with S.N. Verdun-Jones).
  • Criminal Law Process - LAW 102
  • Legal Process - LAW 106
  • Criminal Law Term - LAW 304
  • Law, Theory & Practices of Sentencing - LAW 305
  • Law of Evidence - LAW 309
  • ACE Innovation Lab - Law 343