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, and then articled in Ottawa, worked as Review Counsel at Queen’s Legal Aid, and obtained a LL.M. from Harvard. Since 1980 he has been a Professor Queen's, as well as a Visiting Professor at McGill, Duke and the University of Calgary. Since 2006 he has also been the Academic Director for the Osgoode Hall Law School Family Law LL.M. Program (part-time professional degree) in Toronto.
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; young offenders; 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, and has written or coauthored 20 books. His work is often quoted by all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court and courts of appeal across the country, and has also been cited by courts in the United States, Britain and Australia.
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 20 books and over 150 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.
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 developments as changing the laws governing the assessment of the competency of child witnesses, facilitating the use of expert evidence in child-related cases, establishing advocacy agencies for children, and domestic violence.
Prof. Bala is a member of the Board of the Canadian Research Institute on Law and the Family, and the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
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 Upper Canada
- 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 -2019.
- Work cited by all levels of court in Canada, including 29 times by the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as courts in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.
Fidler, Bala & Saini, Children Resisting Post-Separation Contact: A Differential Approach for Legal and Mental Professionals (Oxford University Press, New York: 2012)
Bala & Anand, Youth Criminal Justice Law (3rd edit), Toronto, Irwin Law, 2012.
Fidler, Bala & Hurwitz, Best Practice Guide: Emotional Abuse and Parent-Child Contact Problems in High Conflict Separations (Toronto High Conflict Forum, 2013)
Swan, Reiter & Bala, Contracts: Cases, Notes & Materials (9th edit.; Butterworths, Toronto, 2015)