Paula O'Brien researches in two areas: public health law and public interest law.
Within public health law, she focuses on international and domestic regulatory issues associated with the health profession, including professional standards and the availability of health workers. She is the co-author of a monograph to be published by Milbank Memorial Fund (USA) in 2011 on the global shortage of health workers. Her public health law research is also concerned with the regulation of harmful products and practices. Her doctoral research is on the legal regulation of the alcohol industry in Australia.
Paula has maintained her connections with the public interest law movement in Australia. Her research in this area has focussed on bringing a social change orientation to public interest lawyering in Australia, in particular through changes to law school curricula.