Vanessa MacDonnell is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) and Co-Director of the uOttawa Public Law Centre. She researches in the areas of Canadian constitutional law, constitutional theory, comparative constitutional law and criminal law. In 2019 she was selected for membership in the Global Young Academy.
Vanessa's research examines the constitutional functions of the executive branch, inter-institutional relationships, and the role of social movements in the development of constitutional law. She is currently completing a SSHRC-funded research project on quasi-constitutional legislation. Vanessa has also written extensively about police powers and the jury.
Vanessa is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (J.D.) and Harvard Law School (LL.M.). She is currently pursuing doctoral studies at McGill University. Between 2007 and 2008 she served as a law clerk to Justice Louise Charron at the Supreme Court of Canada. Vanessa has held visiting research fellowships at the University of the Witwatersrand, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and International Law, King's College London and the Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law at Melbourne Law School. In 2019 she spent six months as Scholar-in-Residence in the Constitutional, Administrative and International Law Section of the federal Department of Justice.
Vanessa teaches or has taught criminal law, evidence, constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, administrative law, a seminar on the Supreme Court of Canada, and a graduate course on the impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on criminal law and procedure.
Vanessa is a regular media commentator on criminal and constitutional issues. She tweets about current affairs at . She recently appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as co-counsel for the intervener Criminal Lawyer's Association in R v Saeed.