Karen Pearlston

Associate Professor


Law, Faculty of

Ludlow Hall 108


1 506 453 4523

Karen Pearlston has taught at UNB Law, University of New Brunswick since 2001. She completed her PhD dissertation At the Limits of Coverture: Judicial Imagination and Women’s Agency in the English Common Law at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2008, under the supervision of Douglas Hay. Her research and teaching interests include English and Canadian legal history, history of women, gender, and the family, family law, tort law, feminist theory, reproductive justice, and gender and sexuality studies.

In 2015, she co-edited of the updated edition of a national family law casebook (Mary Jane Mossman, Natasha Bakht, Vanessa Gruben, Karen Pearlston, eds, Families and the Law: Cases and Commentary, 2nd ed, Captus Press, 2015). 

She is currently pursuing the legal history of divorce in 20th-century Canada with a focus on the treatment of lesbians and gay men under the Divorce Act, 1968 and, with Jula Hughes, a project on the applicability of a reproductive justice framework in New Brunswick. Karen has a long history of social justice activism that informs her teaching and research.


Avoiding the Vulva: Judicial Interpretations of Lesbian Sex Under the Divorce Act, 1968” (2017) 32 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 37-53

“Male Violence, Marital Unity, and the History of the Interspousal Tort Immunity” (2015) 36 Journal of Legal History 260-298

“Equality & Incrementalism: The Role of Common Law Reasoning in Constitutional Rights Cases after Bedford (ONCA)” (2013) 44 Ottawa Law Review 467-506 (with Jula Hughes & Vanessa MacDonnell);

“What a Feme Sole Trader Could Not Do: Lord Mansfield on the Limits of a Married Woman’s Commercial Freedom,” in Kim Kippen and Lori Woods, eds, Worth and Repute: Valuing Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2010)

“Married Women Bankrupts in the Age of Coverture” (2009) 34 Law and Social Inquiry, 265-299