Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am a socio-legal scholar with interests in child and family justice. I joined the Law School as a Lecturer in July 2021. Prior to that, I was appointed as a Lecturer and the Director of the BA Law programmes at the University of Stirling (2018-2021). I previously held roles as a Teaching Fellow (2017-2018) and Research Fellow (2016-2017) at Strathclyde Law School, and as a Research Assistant to the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (2017).  I am an Associate of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and a Fellow of Advance HE.

I work across child and family law, primarily on issues related to compulsory state intervention in the lives of children and families. My major area of focus is the Scottish children’s hearings system. My Ph.D. (which was awarded with no corrections) explored the characteristically unitary nature of the children’s hearings system as an integrated child protection and justice forum. I have contributed to a number of funded projects examining aspects of children's hearings practice, including work on: reporter decision-making and the grounds of referral; the role of safeguarders in children's hearings proceedings; and, joint referrals to procurator fiscals and children's reporters in respect of serious offences allegedly committed by children and young people.

I am a participant in the British Academy’s Childhood Policy Programme - a multidisciplinary project investigating childhood policy throughout the United Kingdom (2019 – present).  As part of this, I was commissioned by the British Academy to write a ‘provocation paper’ on Scottish youth justice and was invited to speak at a panel discussion event on youth justice policy. I am currently involved in a project, led by the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice, exploring justice inequalities for children in conflict with the law. I also contribute to an international comparative study on the state's powers to intervene in family life, led by the European University Viadrina.   

Research Interests

I am interested in how the law responds to children and families, and addresses their rights and interests in legal processes. My work seeks to improve legal responses to children and young people who require compulsory state intervention, whether due to care and protection concerns or offending behaviour. My research mainly focusses on child law and justice, broadly construed. My wider interests relate to family law and justice more generally.

My work is predominately socio-legal in nature. I adopt doctrinal and empirical methodologies and have expertise in qualitative research methods. I am particularly interested in decision-making processes and practices in child welfare interventions. I have conducted research with a diverse range of participants from social workers to safeguarders, panel members to children’s reporters and procurator fiscals to sheriffs.

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Child and family law
  • Family justice 
  • Childcare and protection
  • Youth justice and childhood offending
  • Children’s rights, welfare and wellbeing

Teaching Interests

I have taught across the law curriculum and developed teaching specialisms in child and family law and justice. I hold a postgraduate teaching qualification and have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2019. I have been nominated for Teaching Excellence Awards at the Universities of Strathclyde (2018) and Stirling (2020 and 2021) and was the runner-up for the university-wide award for dedication to equality, diversity and inclusion at Stirling in 2021. I currently teach in the following areas: family law, childhood and crime, children's human rights, legal research. 

Academic / Professional qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Stirling: November 2019
  • Doctor of Laws, University of Strathclyde: May 2017 
  • Bachelor of Laws, University of Strathclyde: July 2011 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • Child and Family Law
  • Family Justice
  • Child Protection
  • Youth Justice
  • Children's Rights
  • Children's Hearings System


Dive into the research topics where Michelle Donnelly is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or