CIRHR PhD Candidate Yao Yao will begin a new appointment at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa this August, first as Lecturer and then as Assistant Professor after the defence of her dissertation, “Uberizing the Legal Professions? Three Chapters on Lawyers in the Online Gig Economy.”
Yao’s work in the areas of the platform economy, professional workers, pay-for-performance and the Chinese legal profession is award winning: she won the 2019 Allen Ponak Award for Best Student Paper from the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA) for part of her thesis, "Uberizing the Legal Profession? Lawyer Autonomy and Status in the Digital Legal Market," which has since been published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations.
“This line of research," she said, following the announcement of the Ponak Award, "was inspired by the lack of attention to high-skilled workers in the online gig economy. Unlike most Uber and Lyft drivers, licensed professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, can usually expect reputable employment. It is therefore puzzling why, given the worsening working conditions of online gig work, professionals would join online labour platforms and risk precarity.”
As she reaches the culmination of her time in the CIRHR’s doctoral program, Yao speaks fondly of the Centre, describing it as a “very nourishing environment for starting an academic career.”
“Its interdisciplinary and pluralist traditions,” she says, “enabled me to converse with scholars in many different areas. I was also very fortunate to be in the current cohort of the PhD program—a friendly, supportive, yet intellectually stimulating community.”