Valerie Costanzo
Valerie Costanzo
Doctoral student

Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa


Valérie Costanzo has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in law from Université de Montréal (2015; 2020). Member of the Quebec Bar since 2016, she has practised mainly in family litigation. This orientation was inspired by her experience as a child and adolescent going through several divorces. She soon imagined using both her personal baggage and her professional background to support families in difficulty. She was called upon to represent spouses, but also children. Her experience in the field made her aware of the practical difficulties of access to justice for families. It was the will to the search for solutions to those difficulties that she started her master’s studies under the supervision of Prof. Alain Roy. Her master’s thesis focused on the failed efforts to establish a unified family court in Quebec.

Alongside her studies, Valérie was hired as a research assistant on the project Accès au Droit et à la Justice (ADAJ), directed by Prof. Pierre Noreau, where she coordinated and carried out research in the field, to the syndics of the Quebec Bar and the Quebec Chambre des Notaires. In addition to her research, she is a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of Université de Montréal as well as an advisor to the Institut québécois de réforme du droit et de la justice. After a contract as scientific coordinator of the Center for Research in Public Law (CRDP), in September 2020 she undertook a doctorate at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Prof. Emmanuelle Bernheim, who specializes in accessibility to justice and interdisciplinary research methodology.

Valérie’s doctoral thesis will present an ethnographic study of children’s voices in courts, as articulated by their attorneys. It poses the following question: what is the role of the child’s lawyer in giving value to the child’s knowledge in relation to his own history and legal experience, to promote his access to justice? She plans on studying the practices of child attorneys in Quebec and in Ontario.

Her thesis committee is composed of Professor Mona Paré and Professor Robert Leckey, respectively professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa specializing in human and children’s rights & dean and professor at the McGill University Law School specializing in Constitutional Law and Family Law.