Debra Haak

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BA(Hons)(Western), LLB (UNB), MPhil (St. Andrews), PhD candidate (Queen’s), of the Bar of Ontario

Debra Haak successfully defended her PhD thesis in September 2019 and has been put forward to convocate from Queen’s University with her PhD in Law in Fall 2019. Her graduate research applied the conceptual and analytical lens of interest-focussed legal problem solving to reconsider the role of law in prostitution and sex work in Canada. She critically examined existing empirical literature and jurisprudence to consider how and whether they contend with the experiences of the differently situated sellers who engage in the exchange of sexual services for consideration, the harms they experience, and their capacity to avoid harm. Ms. Haak’s work raises concerns over the potential conflict between individual and class-based rights claims in Canada, as well as how the Charter might apply to the equality concerns of differently situated vulnerable groups.

Ms. Haak practiced commercial and insolvency litigation at Gowling WLG (previously Smith Lyons) for more than 20 years. She spent one court year at the Inns of Court in London, England, as the recipient of the prestigious Harold G Fox Foundation Scholarship. She marshaled for The Hon Mr. Justice John Thomas (later Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales) and undertook pupillage rotations at each of Essex Court Chambers, Brick Court Chambers, and 4 Pump Court.

For the past four years, Ms. Haak has been teaching Introduction to Legal Skills and Insolvency Restructuring at Queen’s Law, and guest lecturing in Constitutional, Advanced Constitutional and Advanced Legal Research Courses. She teaches Criminal Law at Osgoode Hall Law School.