Dr. Nicholas Bala
Dr. Nicholas Bala
Professor, Faculty of Law
Nicholas (Nick) Bala is a leading Canadian expert on legal issues related to children, youth and families in the justice system. He also teaches and writes about Contract Law.  Nick has law degrees from Queen’s University (J.D. 1977) and Harvard (LL.M. 1980).  He has been on the Faculty of Law at Queen’s since 1980, and he has been a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, McGill and Duke Law School.  His research has focused on issues related to children and families in the justice system, including: parental rights and responsibilities after divorce, including parental alienation; spousal abuse and its effects on children; judicial interviews with children and legal representation of children; the child’s voice in family proceedings; same-sex marriage, unmarried cohabitation and polygamy; the role of experts in the family justice process; witnesses in the criminal courts; and child abuse; the Charter of Rights and the family;  the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; child welfare law, including issues related to indigenous and racialized children and youth; youth justice and young offenders; and access to family justice.  Much of his research work is interdisciplinary.   Prof. Bala has published or co-authored 23 books and over 350 book chapters and articles in journals of law, psychology, social work and medicine.)  He is co-editor casebook used for teaching family law a number of Canadian law schools, Family Law:  Cases, Notes and Materials (Thomson Reuters 2021) (Maur, Bala  & Houston, 10th edit), and he co-authored Bala & Anand, Youth Criminal Justice Law, 3rd edition (Irwin Law, 2012), a frequently cited text about the Y.C.J.A. His work is cited by all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court, and has also been cited by courts in the USA, England, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.  He has been a consultant to federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada on issues related to family law and children in the justice system. He was prepared reports for various government commissions and appeared as a witness before Parliamentary Committees more than twenty times. He was a member of the international Working Group preparing a Guide to Good Practice for the implementation of Art 13(b) of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (“grave risk of harm to the child.)  Prof. Bala’s contributions to family law research and professional education were recognized in awards from Ontario’s Law Society and the Ontario Bar Association in 2009, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Court in 2008 and 2020.  In 2013 Prof. Bala was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2019 he was appointed as a Distinguished University Professor at Queen’s University.

Nicholas Bala has law degrees from Queen’s and Harvard. He has been a Professor at the Faculty of Law at Queen's University since 1980. He is also presently the Academic Director of the Osgoode Hall Law School Part-Time LLM in Family Law. He was Associate Dean at the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University for five years, and has twice won Law Student Society teaching awards. In 2006 he was the winner of the Queen’s University prize for Excellence in Research.

Professor Bala’s main area of research interest is in the area of Family and Children’s Law, dealing with such issues as juvenile justice and youth offending; child welfare law, child abuse and child witnesses in the criminal justice system; family violence; parental rights and responsibilities after divorce; and the legal definition of the family. He has published extensively on these topics, writing or co-authoring 13 books and over 125 book chapters and articles in journals of law, psychology, social work and medicine. His work is regularly cited by the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and Courts of Appeal in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

He frequently presents at continuing education programs for lawyers, doctors, police, psychologists and other professionals, as well as at academic and law reform conferences.

Professor Bala is often invited to present at education programs for judges on young offender, child witness, child welfare, family violence and divorce related issues, and has done work with the National Judicial Institute on judicial education about youth justice issues. Since 1999 he has led a SSHRC funded interdisciplinary research team that is studying child witness issues.

His first book in youth justice field was Bala & Lilles, The Young Offenders Act Annotated (1984), and he wrote Bala, Youth Criminal Justice Law (Irwin Law, 2003) just before the Y.C.J.A. came into force. He has written a number of articles about the new Act.

Professor Bala has been a consultant on youth justice and other child and family law issues to the federal government, as well as to aboriginal groups and the governments of Ontario and the Yukon. He has appeared as a witness before Parliamentary Committees dealing with youth justice reform and other issues related to family and children’s law. In February 2006 he was an expert witness at the Nova Scotia inquiry into the youth justice system (the Nunn Commission).

Professor Bala is a member of the Board of the Canadian Research Institute for Law & the Family at the University of Calgary, has served on the boards of various child and youth serving organizations, and is a volunteer at the Frontenac Youth Diversion Program.


Faculty of Law, Queen's University
128 Union Street, MacDonald Hall
K7L 3N6