Gerard Kennedy

Study program:
Current affiliation:
York University

Gerard Kennedy (law, York University) is exploring how Canadian civil procedure can be reformed to increase access to justice and improve relations among Canadians.

Doctoral research

Justice, Fairness, Efficiency?: The Effects of Canadian Civil Procedure Reform on Access to Justice and the Rule of Law

The state of civil litigation and access to civil justice has been described as one of the least admirable aspects of Canada’s justice system, and a serious threat to the rule of law. Though this problem has been repeatedly recognized, it is the subject of only limited theoretical scholarship. Moreover, recent efforts at reform are just beginning to be empirically analyzed.

In his doctoral research, Gerard is evaluating how efforts to achieve access to justice by reforming civil procedure have or have not succeeded, and what theoretical lessons can be drawn. By connecting empirical research and legal theory in the realm of civil procedure, Gerard will propose further reforms to the civil justice system in Canada that will improve relations between Canadians.

Gerard Kennedy is a lawyer, law teacher, and legal scholar whose experiences have led him to endeavour to promote access to justice with a view to improving relations between Canadians and benefitting all players in the justice system.

A native of Scarborough, Ontario, Gerard earned a bachelor’s of arts with honours in Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto. He then earned a juris doctor degree from Queen's University, where he was awarded the Dean's Key as the graduating student who best combined academic achievement and community involvement.

Gerard spent considerable time studying and working in international law outside Canada. He received a certificate in public international law from the Bader International Study Centre, and he interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Finally, Gerard earned a master’s of law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow and studied under many of the world's leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of international and procedural law.

While Gerard relished his experiences abroad, they also reinforced that Canada is "home." Building upon his clerkship at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, in 2012 Gerard began a private practice in litigation at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto, where he practised over several years in many different subject matters. Gerard's practice included a significant pro bono component, ranging from intervening at the Supreme Court in constitutional cases to helping challenge the criminalization of sodomy laws in Jamaica and regularly volunteering as duty counsel at the Ontario Superior Court and Small Claims Court. Gerard won the 2016 Young Advocates' Society Commitment to Pro Bono Award. Gerard's research builds upon his practical experience, concentrating on how to achieve procedural justice reform for the benefit of all Canadians.