Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family


The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family is an independent, non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Calgary. We are primarily funded by the Alberta Law Foundation, and are governed by a board of directors which includes faculty members from the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, Queen's University and Newcastle University, judges from the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench and the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and lawyers practicing in Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.


An Overview of the Institute

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family is the national leader in high-quality, multidisciplinary research on law, the family and children. It was founded in 1987 by members of the University of Calgary's Faculties of Law and Social Work.

The Institute is affiliated with the University of Calgary and is governed by a board of directors made up of prominent judges and family law lawyers, and leading scholars in law, social work, psychology and sociology. The Institute seeks to achieve better outcomes for families and children by:

· promoting the development and use of evidence-based research;
· informing courts, government, professionals, academics, service providers and the public; and,
· advising governments, courts and others on the development of law, policy, processes and practices.

A History of Ground-Breaking Research

In the 30 years since its founding, the Institute has produced important new research on a wide range of issues, including family violence and its effect on children, litigants without counsel, court and court-annexed programs, government programs, young offenders and prolific adult offenders, legal services for elders and for women fleeing abuse, the alienation and estrangement of children following separation, child support and the implementation of the Child Support Guidelines, and the role of children's lawyers.

The Institute's recent work includes papers and studies examining:

· early neutral evaluation programs and the potential application of such programs to family law disputes in Alberta;
· the short- and long-term efficacy of web-based public legal education materials;
· access to legal services in women's shelters; and,
· the factors that differentiate persistent young offenders from those able to desist from continued offending.

Exciting and Innovative Work in Progress

Our current projects includes:

· Finding the Best Ways Forward, a national symposium, scheduled for September 2017, on hearing the voice of children in legal proceedings;
· an 18-month study of lawyers' and clients' views of limited legal services;
· an evaluation of Alberta's Priority Prolific Offender Program, with the Calgary Police Service, the Edmonton Police Service, the RCMP and Alberta Justice;
· research examining polyamorous families in Canada and Canadian perceptions of polyamorous relationships; and,
· a survey of the views of lawyers and judges on current issues in the practice of family law in Canada.

Our Funding and Finances

The Institute receives the majority of its funding from the Alberta Law Foundation, and satisfies the remainder of its operating expenses through individual project funders such as the federal Department of Justice, the Canadian Bar Association, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, the Law Foundation of British Columbia and the the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The Institute has been a federally-incorporated charity since 1988, and issues tax receipts for donations, which we gladly receive.

For more information about the Institute and its finances, download our most recent annual report.

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Media Contacts

For more information about the Institute and its past and present projects, please contact our Executive Director, John-Paul Boyd, directly at:

403-216-0341, direct line
587-225-2490, cell

The Institute's President, Marie Gordon, Q.C., can be contacted through her firm, Gordon Zwaenepoel, at:

780-425-9777, office

Joanne Paetsch, the Institute's administrator, can be contacted at:

403-216-0342, direct line

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Recent Media Appearances

John-Paul Boyd has been interviewed for and quoted in articles and editorials appearing in publications and websites including The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News, the National Post, Global News, the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, the Vancouver Sun, the Victoria Times Colonist, the Toronto Star, the Canadian Bar Association's National Magazine, the Lawyer's Weekly, Xtra West, Law Times and Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

John-Paul appears frequently on radio and television commenting on matters related to law and the family, dispute resolution processes, law reform and access to justice. His most recent media appearances include:

· CBC radio's Alberta@Noon on the good divorce (19 March 2018)
· News Talk 770 on parenting coordination in Alberta (5 January 2018)
· CPAC, testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill S-202 (13 December 2017)
· SiriusXM's Arlene Bynon Show on accused persons without lawyers in the criminal justice system (25 October 2017)
· CBC News Network on the rights of accused persons without lawyers in the criminal justice system (24 October 2017)
· CBC radio's Alberta@Noon on successfully parenting after separation (3 October 2017)
· News Talk 770 on polygamy, polyamory and the implications for family law (4 August 2017)
· News Talk 770 on the convictions of Winston Blackmore and James Oler for polygamy (25 July 2017)
· News Talk 770 on parental alienation, estranged children and hostile post-separation parenting (25 April 2017)
· CBC Calgary's television and radio news and 660 NEWS on the launch of the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project (19 April 2017)
· Canadian Lawyer's Legal Feeds blog on the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project (5 April 2017)
· CBC radio's Alberta@Noon on self-represented litigants in court (21 February 2017)
· CBC radio's Maritime Noon on polyamorous families and the law (27 October 2016)
· CBC television's The National on judges, judgments and human rights (26 October 2016)
· CBC News Network on transgendered children in family law disputes (24 October 2016)
· CBC radio's The Current on polyamorous families in Canada (16 September 2016)
· CBC radio's The 180 on resolving family law disputes outside court (21 July 2016)

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Stay Up-To-Date

Keep on top of the Institute's work and publications by subscribing to our email list. Subscribers will receive copies of our public research reports, articles and papers as they are completed, our bimonthly newsletter and important updates about the Institute and its work.

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