October 27, 2015
Allard School of Law doctoral student Meredith Hagel has been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Grant for her research on judicial decision-making in Canadian courts of appeal. Her research focuses on the process behind judicial decisions and the influences and constraints on decision-making rather than the decisions themselves.
Influenced by cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman, Meredith will be exploring judicial decisions through a framework based on Kahneman’s two-model system of the mind and work on expert intuition, cognitive heuristics, and cognitive biases.
Meredith says that her doctoral project was largely inspired by her 2009-2010 clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada for the Honourable Mr. Justice Louis LeBel. Prior to that, she served as a law clerk at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal for Justice Georgina Jackson and now Chief Justice Robert Richards.
Receiving the funding from SSHRC has been a proud milestone for Meredith over the course of her PhD research.
“I feel really honoured, and it’s exciting. Doing a PhD can be sort of a long, lonely task and it’s really nice when you get external recognition for it. It makes you feel like you are doing something important and meaningful and it gives you the support you need to keep going through what’s often a really long and arduous journey.”
Meredith says the funding will provide her with the flexibility to take extra time writing her dissertation and will allow her to conduct additional research. She will be interviewing court of appeal judges across Canada and the grant will allow her to expand the scope to include courts that she otherwise would not have been able to reach.
Meredith entered her field of research out of a desire to combine her two very different passions; the law, and cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. Before she began her PhD, Meredith wasn’t sure of the direction she wanted to take next in her career. She was considering going back to school to study neuroscience, but ultimately decided that she could explore the best of both worlds through graduate research.
Outside of her research work, Meredith is an active member of the Allard School of Law. She currently serves on the Graduate Law Students’ Society Executive; was a student leader in the Faculty submission to the Law Society of British Columbia regarding the proposed school of law at Trinity Western University; volunteered as a judge in the first-year moots; and has served as a research assistant for Professor Emma Cunliffe and the Honorable Madame Justice Lynn Smith, QC.
Meredith says the Allard School of Law has been very supportive of her research, and singles out in particular her supervisor, Emma Cunliffe; the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Ljiljana Biukovic; and the Graduate Program Advisor, Joanne Chung. “I wouldn’t be here without all of those people, so I want to give my thanks to them.”
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) provides financial support to outstanding eligible students pursuing masters or doctoral studies in a Canadian university in social sciences or humanities.