Nicholas (Nick) Bala is an internationally recognized expert on issues related to children, youth and families in the justice system, and teaches in that area as well as Contract Law.
He graduated from Queen’s law school in 1977. After articling in Ottawa, he worked as Review Counsel at Queen’s Legal Aid, and then obtained a LL.M. from Harvard. Since 1980 he has been on the Faculty at Queen's Law, as well as a Visiting Professor at McGill, Osgoode Hall Law School, Duke and the University of Calgary.
Prof. Bala is an expert on Family and Children’s Law, with research focussing on issues related to parental separation issues including parental alienation and relocation; children in the family courts, including role of child’s counsel and judicial interviewing of children; spousal abuse and its effects on children; children in the criminal courts; and access to family justice. Much of his research work is interdisciplinary; he has undertaken many collaborative projects with psychologists, social workers, criminologists and health professionals to better understand the effects of involvement in the justice system on children, youth and families. He has published extensively in journals in law, medicine, psychology and social work. His work is often quoted by all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court and courts of appeal across the country, and he has also been cited by courts in the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Prof. Bala was awarded the Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research in 2006, and the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award of the AFCC (Association of Family & Conciliation Court). He has written or co-authored 24 books and over 225 articles and book chapters. He is frequently invited to speak at law reform conferences and professional education programs for judges, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, child welfare workers, and social workers. His 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 in 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2019 he was named the William R. Lederman Distinguished Professor at Queen’s University.
Prof. Bala has worked with Canada’s National Judicial Institute on planning and delivering educational programs for judges on such issues as high conflict separations, child witnesses, domestic violence and young offenders. He has presented briefs to Parliamentary Committees in Canada on many issues related to families, children and the justice system, and has appeared as an expert witness at public inquiries related to children and youth. He has been a consultant and written reports for the federal government, and provincial and territorial governments and their agencies in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon, and played a significant role in such reforms as changing the laws governing: post-separation parenting; the assessment of the competency of child witnesses; and use of expert evidence in child-related cases. He has also had role in improving advocacy for children, responses to domestic violence, and increasing the use of post-separation parenting plans.
Recent Professional Achievements
- Co-author of recent reports for government of Canada on family violence, child witnesses in the criminal justice system, and parental relocation after separation
- Frequently presenting to professional groups on issues relating to family and children's law, for such organizations as National Judicial Institute, Federation of Law Societies, Ontario Bar Association and Law Society of Ontario
- Three times winner of Law Students Society teaching award
- Ontario Bar Association, Award for Excellence in Family Law, 2009
- Law Society Medal, 2009
- Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 2013
- Principal investigator of interdisciplinary group of researchers on child witness issues with funding from Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, 1999 - 2014
- Principal investigator of interdisciplinary group of researchers on improving access and outcomes in the family justice system with funding from Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, 2014 -2022
- Work cited by all levels of court in Canada, includingby the Supreme Court of Canada in 36 cases, as well as courts in the United States, Great Britain and Australia
- Co-Investigator on Law Foundation of Ontario funded research projects on voice of the child reports, improving access to family justice and responding to high conflict separations, 2017-2022
- Principal Investigator on research project funded by Canadian Foundation on Legal Research on long term effects of parental alienation, 2022-23
- Co-editor of Special Issue of Family Court Review on parental alienation and children resisting contact with parents, 2020
- Chair of multidisciplinary task force that prepared the AFCC-Ontario Parenting Plan Guide and Template, 2019-2022
- Bala & Anand, Youth Criminal Justice Law, 3rd edition (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2012)
- Fidler, Bala & Saini, Children Resisting Post-Separation Contact: A Differential Approach for Legal and Mental Professionals (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)
- Birnbaum & Bala, Making Parenting Plans in Canada’s Family Justice System: Challenges, Controversies, and the Role of Mental Health Professionals (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2019)
- Swan, Bala & Adamski, Contracts: Cases, Notes and Materials, 10th edition (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2020)
- Mary-Jo Maur, Nicholas Bala & Claire Houston, Family Law: Text, Cases, Materials and Notes, 10th edition (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2021)