Lionel Smith

Full Professor
Sir William C. Macdonald Professor

3690 Peel Street
Room 105
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 1W9

514-398-4670 [Office]
lionel.smith [at] (Email)

Professor Lionel Smith. Photo credit: Lysanne Larose

Consult his Publications on SSRN
Download: PDF icon Lionel Smith - Publications [.pdf] (update: June 2021)

In January 2022, it was announced that Professor Smith has been elected the fifteenth Downing Professor of the Laws of England at Cambridge University, a position he will take up in the autumn of 2022.

Lionel Smith is interested in all aspects of fundamental comparative private law. He is particularly engaged with how private law understands aspects of unselfish behaviour, and he has an active research agenda in the law relating to trusts, fiduciary obligations, gifts, and unjust enrichment, in civil law and in common law. He is always interested in supervising postgraduate research in these fields.

He is the author of The Law of Tracing (Oxford University Press, 1997), and a co-author of Waters' Law of Trusts in Canada, 5th ed. (Carswell, 2021). He is a co-author and the English reporter of Commercial Trusts in European Private Law (Cambridge University Press, 2005; paperback, 2009). He is the editor or co-editor of ten books and three special issues of law journals, including Equity and Trusts (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2019) (with Alexandra Popovici); Comparative Property Law: Global Perspectives (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2017) (with Michele Graziadei); The Worlds of the Trust (Cambridge University Press, 2013); La fiducie en droit civil (a special issue ((2013) 58:4) of the McGill Law Journal); and Re-imagining the Trust: Trusts in Civil Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012; Chinese translation, Law Press China, 2021). He is the author of over a hundred articles, book chapters, notes and reviews, and his work has been translated into Chinese, Czech, Japanese, and Spanish. He is a contributor to several teaching books, including Canadian Corporate Law: Cases, Notes and Materials, 4th ed. (Butterworths, 2010), and The Law of Restitution in Canada: Cases, Notes and Materials (Emond Montgomery, 2004).

Lionel Smith is a Titular Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law. He is also a member of the American Law Institute, the European Law Institute, and the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law. He is a non-practising member of the Bar of Alberta. In 2017 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. In 2021, Professor Smith was awarded a higher doctorate from the University of Oxford.


  • LL.B., Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal: 2001-2006
  • D. Phil., Lincoln College, Oxford: 1992-1994
  • LL.M., Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge: 1989-1990
  • LL.B., Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario: 1986-1989
  • B.Sc., Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, University of Toronto: 1983-1986


  • Sir William C. Macdonald Chair, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2014- )
  • Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford (2017- )
  • Director, Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law [previously named the Quebec Research Centre of Private and Comparative Law] (2007-2014)
  • Professor of Private Law, Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London (partial appointment) (2013-2016)
  • James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2004-2014)
  • Full Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2007- )
  • William Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2003-2004)
  • Associate Dean (Graduate Studies and Research), Faculty of Law, McGill University (2001-2004)
  • Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2000-2007)
  • Official Fellow and Tutor in Law, St. Hugh's College, Oxford University, and Lecturer in Law, Oxford University (1996-2000)
  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta (1991-1992; 1994-1996)
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Mr. Justice John Sopinka, Supreme Court of Canada, (1990-1991)

Areas of Interest

Private law in common law and civil law, especially the law governing unjust enrichment, loyalty and trusts, succession, and gifts, including the philosophical foundations of private law.

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