Lisa Kelly

Study program:
S.J.D. Law
Current affiliation:
Harvard University

Lisa aims to ensure that Canadian law includes children’s and adolescents’ rights and interests.

Governing the Child: Parental Authority, State Power and the School in North America

Contemporary legal thought exhibits a deep ambivalence about the child.  Seemingly under threat from an array of online and offline sources, the child is understood as in need of greater legal protection and stricter punishment.  Stories of violence committed by and against young people saturate daily media and are at the heart of myriad recent law reforms aimed at protecting the innocent and punishing the deviant.  The child is under siege, and is laying siege. 

Lisa Kelly’s dissertation will examine how this ambivalence manifests itself in contemporary and historical legal understandings of the child.  She will examine the legal regulation of children and adolescents at home, at school, and in detention.  Her aim in selecting these spaces is to consider how each involves complicated, but under-studied, linkages between the family, the market, and the state.  Lisa’s dissertation will compare the United States, Canada, and international law where relevant. 

Lisa Kelly is in the final stages of completing the Doctor of Juridical Science program  (S.J.D.) at Harvard Law School.  In addition to holding a Trudeau Scholarship, Lisa was a Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, and a Fellow of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School.  Her doctoral dissertation – Governing the Child: Parental Authority, State Power and the School in North America – analyzes legal struggles from the mid-nineteenth century to present over race, corporal punishment and the disciplinary reach of school authorities.  Lisa has published in the areas of family law and reproductive justice, including a forthcoming chapter, “Reckoning with Narratives of Innocent Suffering in Transnational Abortion Litigation,” in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (R. Cook, J. Erdman & B. Dickens, eds., U. Penn, 2014).  She holds a J.D. from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law and a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of British Columbia.  After law school, Lisa articled with the Department of Justice in Ottawa and later served as a Law Clerk to Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein of the Supreme Court of Canada.  Lisa has recently been awarded a 2014-2016 postgraduate Fellowship with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Columbia Law School in New York City.   

Experience as a Trudeau Scholar

As a Trudeau scholar, I have benefited enormously from engaging with other members of the Trudeau community.  The opportunity to exchange ideas and gain insights from fellow Scholars, Mentors and Fellows distinguishes the Trudeau Foundation from other scholarship programs.  Organizing an interdisciplinary workshop on criminal law and social movements with fellow scholar Lisa Kerr, for example, allowed me to critically analyze contemporary turns to criminal law in the areas of mental health, trafficking, prostitution, and HIV/AIDS.  Such events enable crucial learning among advocates, scholars, practitioners and judges.  The Trudeau Scholarship has also allowed me to present my work at conferences in North America, Asia, and Europe, and in so doing to learn from other scholars and advocates working on related questions.  These comparative encounters formatively shaped my doctoral work and my future research agenda.  An education conference that I attended in Taiwan early in my doctorate inspired me to delve further into questions of state power and parental authority in children’s public schooling in North America.  Finally, as a scholar studying outside Canada, the Trudeau Community has afforded me unique opportunities to remain engaged with political and legal struggles in Canada.  Because the Trudeau Foundation holds its bilingual events and meetings throughout Canada, I have been able to visit and learn about regions that I had not yet explored.  Through my Trudeau Scholarship I have gained a deeper understanding of Canada – its political history, contemporary challenges, and cultural and linguistic heterogeneity. 

  • April 9, 2018
    Congratulations to 2010 Foundation scholar Lisa Kelly on receiving the 2017-2018 Stanley M. Corbett Award for Excellence in Teaching! Kelly and fellow professor Dharman Kissoun were recognized by Queen’s University Faculty of Law and the Law Students’ Society, which established the award as a joint initiative to honour teaching excellence by law instructors. It is worth mentioning that Kelly was particularly distinguished with this award in her second year of teaching only!