Mary Liston

BA Hons (English Language and Literature, Western), MA (Social and Political Thought, York), LLB (Toronto), PhD (Political Science and Law, Toronto)

Personal profile


Mary Liston is an Associate Professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia. She teaches public law including administrative and constitutional law, legal theory, and law and literature. Her research focuses on public law broadly and administrative law in particular. It also lies at the intersection of constitutional law, legal theory, and democratic theory. She has participated in two leading casebooks as a co-author of Public Law: Cases, Commentary and Analysis and as a contributor to Administrative Law in Context. Her work has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in several precedential public law cases.


Professor Liston’s early scholarship focused on the evolution of the concept of the rule of law and how it functions as a foundational legal principle in Canadian public law. This evolution tracked both theoretical and institutional change, culminating in a reconceptualization of this principle in the Canadian state. Her work grapples with the normative and institutional challenges that political power poses for the rule of law and democratic governance. She seeks to understand the complexity that good government demands as well as the current weaknesses in our system of responsible government. And, her work addresses—where possible—the legal means to improve accountability, public participation, and structures of justification for state action. Profiles of her work in administrative law can be found at Allard Law’s Research Portal.


Professor Liston has developed sub-areas of expertise in the emerging field of Aboriginal administrative law as well as modes of interpreting legal texts. She has also brought her perspective to bear on public law in other jurisdictions. By developing a comparative approach, she has placed Canadian public law in dialogue with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Her comparative learning also extends to a deep commitment to better understand Indigenous legal orders in Canada. Finally, she has been working on a project examining on the role of apologies in Canadian public law.


Professional Affiliations

  • Centre for Feminist Legal Studies
  • Indigenous Legal Studies


  • Law
  • Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Comparative and Foreign Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Public Law and Legal Theory
  • Constitutional Law