UBC Sauder Distinguished Scholar, Director of the Centre for Business Law
B.A. (Honours) (Queen’s); LL.B. (UBC); LL.M. (UBC); Ph.D./S.J.D. (Joint Degree) (UBC/University of Toronto) Member of the New York Bar
Allard Hall, Room 460
- Phone: 604 822 3752
Dr. Carol Liao is an Associate Professor at the Allard School of Law and the UBC Sauder Distinguished Scholar of the Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics at the UBC Sauder School of Business. She is the Director of the Centre for Business Law, a national research centre that also oversees the Business Law Concentration and two experiential learning programs at Allard Law, the Business Law Clinic and Corporate Counsel Externship. Prior to UBC, Dr. Liao was a faculty member at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, where she received the Law Students’ Society First Year Class Teaching Award. Her research focuses on business law, corporate governance, corporate sustainability and business ethics. She is the recipient of the 2021 Business in Vancouver Influential Women in Business Award.
Dr. Liao is the Principal Investigator of a SSHRC Insight Grant-funded project studying the evolution of Canadian and international corporate law and governance principles from an economic, social and environmental sustainability lens. With Dr. Janis Sarra and Professor Cynthia Williams, she is a Principal co-Investigator of the Canada Climate Law Initiative, a cross-disciplinary research hub advancing knowledge on fiduciary obligation and climate governance. Dr. Liao is currently editing three books on sustainable business including Innovating Business for Sustainability: Regulatory Approaches in the Anthropocene with co-editors Dr. Aikaterini Argyrou of Nyenrode Business Universiteit and Dr. Beate Sjåfjell of the University of Oslo (Edward Elgar), and Corporate Law and Sustainability from the Next Generation of Lawyers (McGill-Queen’s University Press).
Dr. Liao is a past Bertram Scholar of the Canadian Foundation for Governance Research and Institute of Corporate Directors. She is a member of the Solicitors' Legal Opinions Committee of BC, longtime member of the Themis International Network of Female Business Scholars, and a board director of the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre - Museum of Migration Society. With her industry partner Shona McGlashan, she has delivered several public talks and private workshops on equity, diversity and inclusion in leadership to corporate and non-profit boards, and she was the keynote speaker on power, gender and race in the legal profession at the 43rd Annual Women in Law Dinner in March 2020. She is a frequent media commentator on corporate law and governance issues, and has been interviewed by outlets such as Global TV, Bloomberg News, CBC, The Globe and Mail Report on Business, Financial Post, Director Lens, The Tyee, Chatelaine, BCBusiness, and The Georgia Straight.
Prior to academia, Dr. Liao was a senior associate in the New York Mergers & Acquisitions Group of Shearman & Sterling LLP, where she represented public and private multinational corporations in a variety of transactional and governance matters. On behalf of the firm, she also served as a legal researcher for the Office of the Prosecutor on location at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda, and was featured in the New York Law Journal for her pro bono asylum work. She is a former judicial clerk of the BC Court of Appeal.
- Business Organizations (Law 459)
- Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law (Law 306D)
- Contract Law (Law 211)
Centre for Business Law
- "A Feminist and Anti-Racist Agenda for Sustainable Corporate Law" in Christopher Bruner and Marc Moore, eds., A Research Agenda for Corporate Law (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2022).
- Corporate Law and Sustainability from the Next Generation of Lawyers (McGill-Queen's University Press, forthcoming 2022).
- Innovating Business for Sustainability: Regulatory Approaches in the Anthropocene (co-edited with Aikaterini Argyrou and Beate Sjåfjell) (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2021).
- "The Questionable Rise of 'Good' Corporations and Hybrid Business Law: Theoretical Trappings, Methodological Challenges, and Transdisciplinary Futures" in Roseanne Russell, Beate Sjåfjell, and Maja van der Velden, eds., Interdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Business (Springer Strategies for Sustainability Book Series, forthcoming 2021).
- “On Race and Academia in the Time of COVID-19” in Shauna Van Praagh and David Sandomierski, eds., Law and Learning in the Time of Pandemic: A Collage (2020) 25(4) Lex Electronica 120.
- “COVID-19 Has Put a Harsh Spotlight on the Anti-Asian Racism That Has Always Existed in Canada,” Opinion Editorial in CBC News, 16 May 2020.
- "Power, Gender, and Race in the Legal Profession," Transcript of Keynote Speech at the 43rd Annual Women in Law Dinner held at the Fairmont Hotel on 5 March 2020, Centre for Feminist Legal Studies Blog, 19 June 2020.
- “The Global Social Enterprise Lawmaking Phenomenon: State Initiatives on Purpose, Capital, and Taxation” (with Elsir U. Tawfik and Pat Teichreb) (2019) 36 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 86.
- “Social Enterprise Law: Friend or Foe to Corporate Sustainability?” in Beate Sjåfjell and Christopher Bruner, eds., The Cambridge Handbook for Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Sustainability (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
- Business Organizations: Practice, Theory, and Emerging Challenges, 2nd ed. (with Robert Yalden, Janis Sarra, Paul D. Paton, Mark Gillen, Mary Condon, Mohamed Khimji, Michael Deturbide, Bradley Bryan, and Gary Campo) (Emond, 2018).
- “Power and the Gender Imperative in Corporate Law” in Beate Sjåfjell and Irene Lynch Fannon, eds., Creating Corporate Sustainability: Gender as an Agent for Change (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
- “Why We #PressforProgress in Corporate Boardrooms,” Report on Business Opinion Editorial in The Globe and Mail, 7 March 2018.
- “Early Lessons in Social Enterprise Law” in Benjamin Means & Joseph W. Yockey, eds., The Cambridge Handbook for Social Enterprise Law (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
- “A Critical Canadian Perspective on the Benefit Corporation,” in the Special Symposium Edition “The Benefit Corporation and the Firm Commitment Universe” (2017) 40:2 Seattle University Law Review 683.
- “BC MLAs Should Recognize ‘Benefit Company’ is an American Branding Exercise,” Report on Business Opinion Editorial in The Globe and Mail, 21 October 2018.
- “The Changing Face of the Non-Profit Sector: Social Enterprise Legislation in British Columbia” in Nick Mulé and Gloria DeSantis, eds., The Shifting Terrain: Nonprofit Policy Advocacy in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017).
- “Reconciliation in the Corporate Commercial Classroom” (with Anna Lund, Gail Henderson, Clayton Bangsund, Freya Kodar, and Shanthi Senthe) (2016) 2:1 Lakehead Law Review 49.
- “Limits to Corporate Reform and Alternative Legal Structures” in Beate Sjåfjell and Benjamin Richardson, eds., Company Law and Sustainability: Legal Barriers and Opportunities (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
- A Korean language edition of the book was published in 2018; a Mandarin language edition will be published in 2020.
- See Ben Archer, Book Review of Company Law and Sustainability (2016) 36:2 Legal Studies 375, noting the book as "clearly one of the most comprehensive works on the topic to date" and Liao's chapter as "particularly excellent."
- “A Canadian Model of Corporate Governance” (2014) 37:2 Dalhousie Law Journal 559.
- Reprinted in Corporate and Financial Law: Interdisciplinary Approaches eJournal, James A. Fanto and Lawrence E. Mitchell, eds., Vol. 9, No. 60 (5 December 2013).
- Originally the 2013 Robert Bertram Award Report, Canadian Foundation for Governance Research (November 2013).
- Ranked first on the list of All Time Top Papers in the Corporate Governance Network's eLibrary on Canada by the Social Science Research Network.
- “A Canadian Model of Corporate Governance: Where Do Shareholders Really Stand?” (Jan/Feb 2014) Director Journal of the Institute of Corporate Directors 36.
- “Disruptive Innovation and the Global Emergence of Hybrid Legal Structures” (April 2014) 11:2 European Company Law 67; University of Oslo Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2014-16.
- “The Next Stage of CSR for Canada: Transformational Corporate Governance, Hybrid Legal Structures, and the Growth of Social Enterprise” (2013) 9 McGill Journal of Sustainable Development Law 53.
- Reprinted in the Canadian Law eJournal, Anita Anand, ed., Vol. 9, No. 40 (13 June 2013).
- “Corporate Governance Reform for the 21st Century: A Critical Reassessment of the Shareholder Primacy Model” (2012) 43(2) Ottawa Law Review 187.
- “Designing Social Value Architecture for the For-Profit Company” (2012) 67 Canadian Review of Social Policy 85.
- “Power Without Property, Still: Unger, Berle, and the Derivatives Revolution” (with Cristie Ford) in the Special Symposium Edition “In Berle’s Footsteps” marking the launch of the Adolf A. Berle, Jr. Center on Corporations, Law and Society (2010) 33 Seattle University Law Review 889.
For Dr. Liao's publications available on SSRN, go here.
Selected publications are also listed on the Law Library Faculty Research Publications Database
- Centre for Asian Legal Studies
- Centre for Business Law
- Centre for Feminist Legal Studies
- Centre for Law and the Environment
- Business, corporate and commercial law
- Environmental law, natural resources, and climate change
- Feminist legal studies
- Law and social justice
- Legal ethics and the legal profession
What are – and what should be – the fundamental principles driving the development of corporate law and governance in light of climate change and other economic, social, and environmental risks?