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Current Research Students

The School of Law at UL currently has approximately 25 PhD students researching a wide range of law, with most associated with the Centre for Crime, Justice, and Victim Studies or the International, Commercial, and Economic Law Group in the School. There are also currently, approximately 45 taught master's students in the School drawn from the master's programmes: LLM/MA Human Rights in Criminal Justice, LLM General, and the LLM International and Commercial Law.

Below is a sample of the exciting research currently being undertaken by PhD students in the School of Law.


Photograph of Lorraine Barron

Lorraine Barron graduated from UL with an LLB (Graduate Entry) (first class honours) in 2011. She is pursuing a PhD research thesis under the supervision of Dr Ger Coffey and Dr Leahy that critically analyses the current legislative framework in Ireland concerning the post-release management of sex offenders from a comparative perspective within a human rights and due process framework. She received the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences’ fee waiver, the School of Law Judge John Murray Tutorial Scholarship in 2012, and was awarded an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland scholarship in 2013 to continue her doctrinal research. She has published in both national and international law journals and has presented papers on her research in Ireland and other EU countries. She has lectured in Computer Ethics and Investigation Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Criminal Law, and has tutored in EU Law, Company Law, Equity and Trusts, Contract Law, Media Law, and Legal Environment of Business. Her research interests are in the areas of criminal justice, human rights, and restorative justice. She is also a member of the CCJVS.



Cillian Blake is a detective in the Garda Síochána attached to the Special Tactics & Operational Command. He completed an LLB in Dublin Institute of Technology in 2015 and then went on to complete an LLM in International Human Rights Law at Griffith College Dublin; the focus of his dissertation was the use of lethal force by the police in counter-terrorist operations. Cillian is a new PhD candidate at UL being supervised by Prof. Kilcommins. The title of his thesis is, “A study of the extent to which legal standards for the permissible use of force by State agents are adequately clear to protect society from excessive use.” This study will build on Cillian’s LLM dissertation and provide a more in-depth analysis of the use of force by the police.

Photograph of Hope Davis.


Hope Davidson is a former solicitor and current Irish Research Council Scholar. She has a BA in History from Trinity College, an LLM in Health & Care Law from University College Cork, and is currently completing her doctoral research on decision-making in dementia care under the supervision of Dr Spain and Jennifer Schweppe. Hope has presented and published nationally and internationally on dementia and in the areas of children and medical treatment, research ethics, and involuntary detention. She teaches medical and nursing law, constitutional law, legal systems and methods, and research ethics. She sits on the AHSS research ethics committee and on the course board for Law as the PhD representative. Follow the link to hear about Hope's work and experience doing a PhD in the School of Law


Lucy Davis graduated from UL with a first class honours Law Plus degree in 2016. Following this, she completed the LLM (General) programme; she is expected to graduate in January 2018. During the course of her degree and LLM, Lucy was awarded a number of prestigious awards, including the Mason, Hayes & Curran Company Law Prize for highest results in undergraduate Company Law modules. Lucy is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Dr John Lombard and Dr Lydia Bracken. The working title of her thesis is “The limits of the rights-based framework? Exploring the legal and ethical framework governing ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ Orders”. Her research interests include medical law, constitutional law, and human rights.


Photograph of Beth Duane


Beth Duane recently graduated from the MA in Human Rights in Criminal Justice at UL, where her thesis focused on issues relating to mental health in the Irish criminal justice system. Prior to this, she graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in History, Sociology & Politics, obtaining a first class honours degree. She has previously interned with the Association for Criminal Justice Research & Development and is currently involved in establishing a new programme with ADAPT Services to raise awareness of domestic violence and how it impacts upon youth. She is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Dr Margaret Fitzgerald O’Reilly and Dr Susan Leahy; her research is titled “Assessing the Causes, Effects, and Potential Responses to Prison Violence in Adult Prisons in Ireland”. Her research interests include human rights, criminology, false convictions, techniques of punishment, and criminal law.


Photograph of Gerard Greaney.

Gerard Greaney holds first class honours degrees in Business (BBS), Law (LLB), and International Commercial Law (LLM) from UL. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (FCA), having trained and qualified in practice with PwC; he has extensive international business experience as a finance director in the multinational sector. Gerard’s research interests are in the areas of commercial, company, and contract law, intellectual property law, and international tax law. He has published on EU patent law in Business Law Review. He is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Raymond Friel and Dr Eimear Spain. His thesis is entitled “Intellectual property: Developing a new taxonomy for a more responsive approach to the needs of an innovation-based economy”.

Photograph of Andrew Lacey


Andrew Lacey was awarded a BA in Insurance & European Studies in 2001, LLB (Graduate Entry) in 2008, and a BA in Human Recourse Management in 2010 all with UL. In 2013 he completed an LLM in Criminal Law from University College Cork after he completed the Criminal Justice Masters clinical programme. In September 2014, Andrew commenced a PhD research thesis with the CCJVS under the supervision of Prof. Kilcommins that examines the departure from adversarialism in the Irish Criminal Justice process and the emerging transition towards dispositive justice. Andrew has 16 years’ experience as a member of An Garda Síochána, currently holding the rank of sergeant. Andrew is the course director of the postgraduate diploma in Serious Crime Investigation, a programme accredited by UL and taught through the Garda College; he previously delivered on the BA in Applied Policing programme. Andrew has recently completed a specialist diploma in Teaching, Learning & Scholarship with the University’s Centre for Teaching & Learning and is a certified hate crime trainer for law enforcement in Europe with the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions & Human Rights).




Photograph of Karen O'Brien.

Karen O’Brien graduated from UL with a 2.1 honours degrees in Law (LLB) in 2013 and International Commercial Law (LLM) in 2015. Karen has tutored at UL in Commercial Law, Family Law, Land Law, Comparative Law, and Sports and the Law. Prior to this she has worked in the banking sector for 27 years, leading to her keen research interests in commercial law, contract law and land law. She is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Professor Raymond Friel. In merging her interest in banking law, company law, and her personal experience working for a financial institution, she proposes to examine the recent reforms in Ireland of personal insolvency and bankruptcy law to evaluate the legislation as to whether or not these reforms are sufficient to deal with the enormity of the over-indebtedness problem facing all types of individuals caused by the legacy of unsustainable debt. Her thesis will also include a comparative element with other jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, England, and Wales.


Photograph of Michelle McCarthy

Michelle McCarthy graduated from UL with a BA in History, Politics, Sociology & Social Studies in 2013. She then completed her postgraduate studies in Law, for which she received an LLB from UL in 2015, and in 2017 she completed her LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice (first class honours) in UL with her thesis, Why the victim has returned: Exploring the dynamics which have promoted the role of crime victims in the Irish jurisdiction. Michelle is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Dr Leahy and Dr Fitzgerald O’Reilly. Her working title is “Hidden Victims: Adult male offenders as victims of crime in Ireland” and her research will examine the State’s response to the experiences of victimisation of adult male offenders. Michelle is a member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, the Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development, as well as the CCJVS in UL. Her research interests include human rights, victim studies, criminology, criminal law, and European law.
Image of James Meighan
James Meighan was awarded an LLB (Hons) from the University for the West of England and an LLM from Northumbria University. His master’s dissertation was entitled The Brussels I Recast Regulation and the Relationship between the Regulation and Private International and National Law Generally. He was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. His research interests include the operation of the Irish Free State Constitution, the relationship between the various powers under the Irish Free State Constitution, and the evolution from Saorstát Eireann to Bunreacht na hÉireann. James commenced his PhD research thesis in 2017 which is entitled “How did the Separation of Powers Inform, Evolve Under, and Influence the Irish Free State Constitution?” under the supervision of Dr Laura Cahillane and Eoin Quill. James was awarded a scholarship from UL School of Law to complete his PhD.

Photograph of Nada Salahaldeen Balto

Nada Salahaldeen Balto graduated with first class honours and was awarded a master’s degree (first class honours) from King Abdul-Aziz University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2013; the title of her dissertation is The Constitutional Censorship over Laws in Saudi Arabia. She was a graduate assistant in the Faculty of Law in King Abdul-Aziz University and she lectured on Constitutional Law and Administrative Law modules for LLB students; she is an established member of the National Society for the Protection of the Family in Saudi Arabia. In March 2017, Nada presented a paper at the fifth academic international conference on interdisciplinary legal studies in Oxford University. The paper was published in the Academic International Conference on Multidisciplinary Studies and Education. Nada has been awarded a scholarship from the Faculty of Law, King Abdul-Aziz University to undertake PhD research at UL in 2015. The working title for her thesis is “Codification of Sharia Discretion in Relation to Punishments in Saudi Arabia” and she is under the supervision of Prof. Kilcommins and Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan.

Photograph of Stephen Strauss-Walsh


Stephen Strauss-Walsh received a first class honours LLB from UL in 2015. That same year he won a UL School of Law scholarship to help him pursue his PhD under Prof. Kilcommins and Dr Lombard. The following year Stephen won a residential scholarship to continue this research. His project explores how the Irish criminal justice system is reintegrating victims of crime. The project revolves around a novel utilisation of Foucauldian and Habermasian theories. As an undergraduate, he won the Catherine McGuiness Prize for clinical legal excellence, co-authored a published report with Prof. Kilcommins and Dr Eimear Spain on deaths in custody and opted to spend a year studying at the University of Bologna in Italy under the tutelage of the leading Marxist criminologist Prof. Melossi. As a postgraduate, he won the A&L Goodbody Legal Essay Competition in 2016, presented conference papers on victims of crime at the Royal Irish Academy, and has editorial experience with leading academics. He currently works as a tutor at the Regional Writing Centre and has taught extensively on public and private law subjects. He is the current PhD rep for the UL School of Law and has had an opinion piece on Irish penal reform published in The Journal. His research interests are philosophy and criminology.



Prospective students for research degrees (PhD/LLM by Research) would contact the Director of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Alan Cusack.

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