Jennifer Bergman

SJD Candidate
Thesis title:
Remedying Barriers or Reinforcing Them: The Role of the Law in Mental Health Service Use by Children Engaged in the Family Law and Criminal Justice Systems
Office in Falconer Hall
84 Queen's Park
Toronto, M5S 2C5

Jennifer Bergman is a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) candidate at the University of Toronto.  Before commencing the SJD in Fall 2018, she completed a Master of Laws at the University of Toronto, examining how, in practice, the law fails to protect children with mental health issues due to the way that mental health issues are defined in both the family law and criminal justice systems, and because neither system recognizes the importance of intersectionality.  Building upon the knowledge gained from her LL.M. research, her doctoral research explores the relationship between the law and the unmet mental health service needs of young people with mental health issues who are engaged with the family law (child welfare) and youth criminal justice systems, with a focus on how legal and policy frameworks, as written and as applied in practice, affect the experiences of these youth, particularly in terms of access to needed mental health supports and services, and how changes in the ways laws and policies are drafted and implemented can help to reduce the gap between service needs and service use.

Jennifer’s interest in the relationship between law and society generally, and in how different variables intersect and affect people’s perceptions and experiences, was substantially shaped by her undergraduate work in sociology.  In pursuing her Bachelor of Arts at the University of British Columbia, she did considerable research on the interaction between immigration laws, the experiences of foreign domestic workers in Canada, and gender equality.  Following receipt of her B.A., Jennifer obtained an LL.B. from the University of British Columbia.  She subsequently received a Master of Laws, with a specialty in Alternative Dispute Resolution, from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. 

In the LL.M. program at Osgoode Hall Law School, Jennifer conducted a survey of practicing mediators and, using this original research, as well as existing research, produced a thesis which analyzed the sources of power mediators possess, and how they are used.  The results of her thesis research were published in an article in the Canadian Arbitration and Mediation Journal.  She has also co-authored numerous legal papers, several of which have formed part of the curriculum at continuing legal education courses put on by The Law Society of Ontario, The Advocates’ Society, and Osgoode Professional Development.

Jennifer is a member of the Bar in British Columbia and Ontario, and has practiced law in both provinces.  She has spent the bulk of her legal career practicing family law.  And, it was her experiences in this practice, that fueled her interest in children’s mental health issues, and prompted her to return to academia in Fall 2017.

LL.M., University of Toronto
LL.M., York University
LL.B., University of British Columbia
B.A., University of British Columbia
Awards and Distinctions
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Doctoral Fellowship (2020 – 2023)
Law Foundation of British Columbia, Law Foundation Graduate Fellowship (2019 – 2020)
Law Foundation of British Columbia, Law Foundation Graduate Fellowship (2018 – 2019)
Ontario Graduate Scholarship, University of Toronto (2018 – 2019)
Faculty of Law Fellowship, University of Toronto (2018 – 2021)
Law Foundation of British Columbia, Law Foundation Graduate Fellowship (2017 – 2018)
Ontario Graduate Scholarship, University of Toronto (2017 – 2018)
Professional Affiliations
Law Society of Ontario
Law Society of British Columbia
Selected Publications

Jennifer Bergman, "Intersectionality: A Means for Addressing the Needs of Children with Mental Health Issues who are Engaged with the Family Law and Criminal Justice Systems?" (2019) 36 Windsor YB Access Just 115.

Jennifer Bergman, “Mediators’ Power: A Study of Mediators’ Views about the Sources of Power They Possess and Use” (2011) 20:2 Canadian Arbitration and Mediation Journal 50.

Julie Hannaford and Jennifer Bergman, with assistance by Charu Ruparelia, “The Spousal Support Claim in the High Income Universe” (Paper presented to Osgoode Professional Development’s education program, 3rd Annual Recent Developments and Complex Issues in Child and Spousal Support, held October 7th, 2013).

Julie Hannaford and Jennifer Bergman, “General Rules for Conducting Family Law Motions” (Prepared for The Advocates’ Society’s education program, Conduct of the Family Law Motion, held April 3, 2013).

Julie Hannaford and Jennifer Bergman, “Motions for Disclosure from Non-Parties” (Prepared for The Law Society of Upper Canada’s education program, Property Issues in Family Law – Part 2, held March 20, 2013).

Research Interests
Criminal Law 
Family Law
Feminist Analysis of Law
Health Law
Committee Members
Ellen Berrey, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Visiting Prof. Carolyn Strange: "Gay Village killings show there's still tension between Toronto cops, LGBTQ community"

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Faculty of Law was pleased to host Prof. Carolyn Strange, of the Australian National University School of History, as a visiting professor from July to November 2018. Before she returned to Australia, Prof. Strange wrote this piece in The Conversation reflecting on the historical context of the police response to serial killers of gay males in light of the charges against Bruce McArthur in Toronto.

Bruce McArthur, who allegedly lured men into sexual encounters, killed them and disposed of their bodies, faces eight murder charges in Toronto. The case has saddened and angered many, especially those from LGBTQ2S+ communities. They’ve accused police of failing to investigate the case seriously.

Some community activists believe homophobia and racism lengthened the time it took police to make an arrest. These accusations have triggered an investigation into previously unsolved murders of gay men in the 1970s.

Asper Centre Constitutional Roundtable with Professor Kent Roach

Professor Kent Roach Image

On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, University of Toronto Faculty of Law Professor Kent Roach will present an Asper Centre Constitutional Roundtable titled “Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley/Colten Boushie Case.”

Prof. Kent Roach writes "Khill verdict should make us think twice about our self-defence laws"

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

In a commentary in the Globe and Mail, Prof. Kent Roach writes about the implications of the acquittal verdict in the Peter Khill trial for second-degree murder of Jonathan Styres, and Indigenous man ("Khill verdict should make us think twice about our self-defence laws," July 4, 2018).

Read the full commentary on the Globe and Mail website, or below.

Indigenous Initiatives Office's Amanda Carling writes "Pleading guilty when innocent: A truth for too many Indigenous people"

Friday, May 25, 2018

In a commentary in the Globe and Mail, Amanda Carling, manager of the Indigenous Initiatives Office, highlights the issue of innocent people – a disproportionate number of them First Nations, Inuit and Métis people – pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit ("Pleading guilty when innocent: A truth for too many Indigenous people," May 23, 2018).

Read the full commentary on the Globe and Mail website, or below.