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Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Assistant Professor (Adjunct), Queen's University, Ontario

Dr Debra M Haak - PhD (Queen's), MPhil (St Andrews), LLB (UNB), BA Hons (Western) - is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor (Adjunct) in the Faculty of Law at Queen's University, Canada. Her postdoctoral research project - “Not All Women: Individual and Group Rights Under the Canadian Charter” - considers women's equality in the context of section 7 rights claims and section 1 justifications.

Debra’s research is motivated by a concern over how law and policy in Canada contend with the different and at times divergent interests of individuals and groups in a diverse society. Differently situated individuals and groups increasingly make conflicting demands on the state, often framing those demands as rights claims. Legal decision makers, including judges and policy makers, make difficult choices between and among individuals and groups in a liberal and constitutional legal context. They increasingly rely on empirical and theoretical scholarship. Debra’s research considers whether and how the state does and ought to respond to and reconcile stakeholder demands, including how legal decision makers balance competing rights claims and use scholarly literature. Her PhD research focussed on the intractable debate over prostitution and sex work policy in Canada. Her research has been published in the UBC Law Review, the Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, The Globe & Mail, National Post, and in other print media and online publications across Canada. She has an article forthcoming in the Queen's Law Journal (Spring 2021).

Debra practiced commercial and insolvency litigation at Gowling WLG for 20 years, and appeared regularly before all levels of court in Ontario. She spent one court year at the Inns of Court in London, England, as the recipient of the prestigious Harold G Fox Foundation Scholarship. She marshaled for The Hon Mr. Justice John Thomas (later Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales).


  • 2016–present
    Adjunct Professor/Visiting Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada
  • 2015–2019
    Teaching Fellow, Queen's University, Canada
  • 1993–2016
    Partner/Associate, Gowling WLG


  • 2019 
    Queen's University, PhD
  • 1996 
    Law Society of Upper Canada, Called to the Ontario Bar
  • 1995 
    University of New Brunswick, LLB
  • 1993 
    University of St Andrews, MPhil
  • 1990 
    University of Western Ontario, BA (Hons)


  • 2019
    Re(de)fining Prostitution and Sex Work: Conceptual Clarity for Legal Thinking, Windsor Rev Legal Soc Issues (forthcoming)
  • 2017
    The Initial Test of Constitutional Validity: Identifying the Legislative Objectives of Canada's New Prostitution Laws, 50:3 UBC L Rev 657