Prof. Ryan Alford

Associate Professor, Professor
Friday afternoons from 1:30-4:30 pm.
Academic Qualifications: 

Professor Alford received his doctorate in public, constitutional, and international law from the University of South Africa.  He recently published two books on the subject of the rule of law with McGill-Queens' University Press.  (Most of his law review articles are available on his SSRN page).

Prior, he was awarded his master’s degree from the University of Oxford and his law degree from New York University.  He is called to the bar of Ontario and is an attorney and counselor-at-law of the state of New York.

Date joined Lakehead: 
July 2014
Previous Teaching/Work: 

Upon receiving his law degree, he served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Robert L. Carter of the Southern District of New York and the Honorable Rosemary S. Pooler of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  After entering practice he worked for the firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in their New York and Brussels offices, focusing on international arbitration, transnational litigation, and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to joining the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, he was Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, where he was awarded the First Year Class Teaching Award.  He has also served as a Visiting Fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory.

Research Interests: 
  • Constitutional history
  • Historical development of the Rule of Law
  • Nonderogable rights during public emergencies

Current Courses:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Special Topics: Rule of Law

Sample Publications:

  • Seven Absolute Rights: Recovering the Foundations of Canada's Rule of Law (Montreal: McGill-Queens' University Press, 2020) (peer-reviewed book).
  • Permanent State of Emergency: Unchecked Executive Power and the Demise of the Rule of Law (Montreal: McGill-Queens' University Press, 2017) (peer-reviewed book).
  • "The Origins of Hostility to the Rule of law in Canadian Academia: A History of Administrativism and Anti-Historicity", in Attacks on the Rule of Law from Within (M. St-Hilaire and J. Baron, eds.) (Toronto: Lexis-Nexis, 2019) (peer-reviewed book chapter).

Community Service:

  • Bencher (director) of the Law Society of Ontario (the regulator of the province's legal professions).
  • Adjudicator of the Law Society Tribunal (the quasi-judicial disciplinary body that hears allegations of professional misconduct).
  • Vice-Chair, Tribunal Committee of the Convocation of the Law Society (responsible for the supervision of the Tribunal and the revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of Practice and Procedure).
  • Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute
  • Research Associate, University of British Columbia Centre for Constitutional Law and Legal Studies


Prof. Alford serves as the faculty supervisor of Bora Laskin's chapter of the Runnymede Society, the national law student membership group dedicated to debating the ideas and the ideals of constitutionalism, individual liberty and the rule of law.

He also brought a successful constitutional challenge to the provisions of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act (Alford v. Canada (Attorney-General) 2022 ONSC 2911 (CanLII).  In that case, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down a federal statute that abridged freedom of speech and debate in Parliament for implicitly amending the unwritten provisions of the Constitution of Canada --the first time that any Canadian court has done so. 

He was also granted standing by the Public Order Emergency Commission (the Rouleau Commission) to participate as a party before the Inquiry and to make submissions about the propriety of the Government of Canada's promulgation of the Emergencies Act.