Professor Lisa Toohey

My Expertise

International trade law

International law

Legal innovation

Change in the legal profession

Dispute Resolution



World Trade Organisation

Trade Disputes



Fields of Research (FoR)

International trade and investment law, International and comparative law, Litigation, adjudication and dispute resolution, Access to justice, Legal institutions (incl. courts and justice systems), Innovation management, International Trade Law, Litigation, Adjudication and Dispute Resolution, International Law, Comparative Law

SEO tags


Professor Lisa Toohey teaches and researches in international trade law and the impact of international law on the commercial sphere.   At a domestic level her teaching and research is focussed on the use of legal information, legal design and innovation, and dispute resolution.  

Underpinning her research is a passion to understand how individuals and groups understand and interpret their rights in order to resolve disputes at international,...view more

Professor Lisa Toohey teaches and researches in international trade law and the impact of international law on the commercial sphere.   At a domestic level her teaching and research is focussed on the use of legal information, legal design and innovation, and dispute resolution.  

Underpinning her research is a passion to understand how individuals and groups understand and interpret their rights in order to resolve disputes at international, domestic, and transactional levels - and how better-designed systems and information can improve access to justice.   This includes a focus on how states in the Asia-Pacific region engage with the international law system and resolve disputes, how mediation can be better used to address multi-issue public international law disputes, how individuals in civil disputes access and interpret legal information, and how legal design can be used as a tool to better facilitate understanding of legal information.  

In 2020, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to pursue her research at the University of Texas at Austin, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Lisa is an assessor for the Research Grants Council (Hong Kong), a nominated member for Australia of the Asian WTO Research Network, and a founding member of the UNSW China International Business and Economic Law (CIBEL) Centre.  Past roles have included serving  two terms on the Executive Council of the Society of International Economic Law, Senior Fellow of the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown University, founder and past President of the Australasian Dispute Resolution Network, and  member of the Sparke Helmore Transformation Working Group,

Lisa also has a strong record of service at Faculty and School level at current and previous institutions, including  Faculty Associate Dean (Education) at UNSW,  Law School Deputy Dean (Academic), Law School Deputy Dean (Research), and Faculty Associate Dean (Equity Diversity and Inclusion) at the University of Newcastle.

Prior to academia, Lisa practised commercial law in Australia at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and in Vietnam at Baker & McKenzie, where she developed expertise in  WTO law, dispute resolution, and general commercial practice.  She has worked across East, Southeast, and Central Asia on international law and dispute resolution projects funded by the Australian, US and Canadian governments and with international donors such as the Asian Development Bank.  These projects have developed trade law and dispute resolution capacity within the region, including in Vietnam, Azerbaijan and Myanmar, and through work in Australia with visiting delegations from Thailand, China, and Iraq.   She has taught as a visiting professor at the Centre Franco-Vietnamien de Formation à la Gestion at the National Economics University of Vietnam, at Naresuan University Thailand,  at the University of Lausanne, and at the National Taipei University of Business.

My Grants

I am currently lead CI on two major (Cat 1) grants:

  • Global Agricultural Trade and Traceability: International Models and Future Architecture. Funded under the National Agriculture Traceability Grants Program, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (2024-2025)
  • Australia and Weaponised Trade: Threats and Responses. Funded under the Strategic Research Grants Program, Department of Defence.(2022-2024)


Past Grants and Consultancies

  • Confidential applied WTO Law research for government.   (2024, Cat 2)
  • Visual Communication of legal information in criminal public defence: a pilot study (2022, University of Newcastle)
  • Blockchain and Wine Provenance: Blockchain-enabled information technologies and their influence over consumers’ purchasing behaviour (2021-2024, Industry Consortium-funded, Cat 3)
  • Legal Design & Innovation (2018-2020, Industry-funded Cat 3)
  • Confidential needs analysis and legal design thinking workshop for government to regulatory capacity of frontline departmental staff (2020-2021 Cat 3)
  • Mentoring women from regional Australia to realise their educational and career aspirations in business and law.   (2017, Cat 1, Department of Education and Training)
  • Commercial Law and Legal Education in Myanmar (2016-207, Cat 3)
  • The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement: Implications for Australian Services Suppliers and China's Services Sector (2016, Shanghai Jiao Tong University/University of New South Wales Collaborative Research Fund)
  • USAID: Designing and delivering continuing legal education for Vietnamese lawyers under the Governance for Inclusive Growth Program (2016).
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Model for Economic Governance? (2015, University of Melbourne) 
  • The Embedded Liberalism Compromise Revisited: Twenty Years of Domestic Policy Under WTO Law (2015, University of New South Wales)
  • Thai Government: Dispute Resolution training for Thai Judges (2014-2015).
  • Access of Australian Exporters to International Mechanisms for the Settlement of Trade Disputes (2014, University of New South Wales)
  • Access to Legal Information – A Pilot Study (2013, Australian Institute of Judicial Administration).
  • Australian Aid Agency: Domestic Strategies for WTO Engagement for Government officials from Iraq (2012).
  • Australian Legal Structures and Processes (2012, Shanghai Police College).
  • Legal Dimensions of Innovation (2012, Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court).
  • WTO Advanced Legal Research & Training Program for Vietnamese Government Officials (2008, CIDA-Funded Legal Reform Assistance Project).
  • Dispute Resolution and Tenants in Community Title Schemes (2007, Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General).
  • Azerbaijan Commercial Law and Dispute Resolution needs analysis (2003-2004, American Bar Association).
  • Curriculum design for the Legal and Judicial Reforms Project for Sri Lankan officials from the Ministry of Justice (2000 – 2001, World Bank).
  • US-Vietnam Support for Trade Acceleration and Reform for Vietnamese officials (USAID STAR Project with Baker & McKenzie) (2001-2002).



My Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), University of Queensland   (International relations, Business German, Honours dissertation in German)
  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Queensland
  • Master of Laws, University of Melbourne
  • Doctor of Philosophy, International Law and International Relations, University of Queensland
  • Admitted as a Solicitor and Barrister of the High Court of Australia

My Research Supervision

Supervision keywords

Areas of supervision

I am interested in working with HDR students who might wish to join the following projects:


  1. Traceabilty and Trade - How are traceability provisions being used by states to achieve goals such as consumer protection, sustainability, enhance compliance with human rights norms, or ensure product integrity?   How can trade law better interact with traceability regimes?  What are the barriers and what are the potential applications of traceability within the international trade system?
  2. Economic coercion, Weaponised Trade and Geopolitics - How well (or poorly) can international regimes address economic coercion and weaponised trade? What are the systemic impacts of economic coercion / weaponised trade and can existing trade rules and fora, especially the WTO, adequately respond?
  3. Legal design and innovation - How can we improve access to justice through the intentional design of legal documents, processes, and organisations - here I am especially interested in supervising projects with an empirical element. 

I am also open to supervising on self-directed HDR projects in the following areas

  1. WTO Law and Policy - Especially trade disputes,  SPS and TBT measures, and empirical projects on WTO Law and Policy, and questions of the design of trade law architecture.
  2. Exporters and the Law -  Especially understanding how Australian exporters respond to opportunities and regulatory challenges produced by trade agreements, how they respond to geopolitical challenges, and whether legal and policy mechanisms can be used to help improve the export environment for SMEs in particular.
  3. Alternative Dispute Resolution - focussing especially on mediation, access to justice and empirical projects.
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Room 248
Law Building


+61 2 9385 9519