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Bridgette Toy-Cronin 186

Director, Civil Justice Centre
Co-Director, Otago Centre for Law and Society
Associate Professor

BA, LLB(Hons) (Auck), LLM (Harv), PhD (Otago)

Tel +64 21 279 0488
Civil Justice Centre
Otago Centre for Law and Society


My aim is to broaden and deepen my students' understanding of law by guiding them to make connections between the law they study in the books and how it works in the real world. I strive to encourage active and reflective learners who are aware of a range of possibilities in the legal field, understand the diversity of clients and their needs, and who are committed to improving access to justice in their communities.

  • LAWS 101 The Legal System (Course coordinator)
  • LAWS 350 Lawyers, Clients, and the Profession


I welcome inquiries for students interested in the field of civil justice research. I am not currently employing any new fellows.

Completed students

  • Margaret Courtney (LLM) (with Professor Jacinta Ruru)
  • Mihiata Pirini (LLM, Distinction) (with Professor Jacinta Ruru)


My research is focused on improving access to the civil justice system, particularly the areas of that system that people are most likely to come into contact with, and about people who face the most significant barriers.

I research in three areas:

  1. Disputants
  2. Dispute resolution design
  3. Socio-legal methods for civil justice research

In carrying out this research, I:

  • Focus on aspects of the civil justice system that people are most likely to come into contact with, and about people who face the most significant barriers
  • Give voice to the people accessing justice through research and engagement
  • Foster collaboration in recognition of the fact that transformation requires diversity and shared commitment of many players


I examine a variety of ways to support people to access the justice system including information and self-help services, advice, and representation.

Some of the projects conducted under this area include:

Dispute resolution design

This work has focused on the future of courts, dispute resolution spaces, adjudication and mediation, and their integration. In doing so I work with and alongside other organisations including the New Zealand Bar Association, the Rules Committee, and the Courts Strategic Partnership Group.

Some of the projects conducted under this area include:

Socio-legal methods for civil justice research

The study of the civil justice system requires using socio-legal methods, which differ from the doctrinal methods most commonly used in the study of law. I study the application of these methods and their ethical implications in the civil justice setting.


I completed my undergraduate education in law and politics at the University of Auckland. Keen to see the world, I spent a year abroad at the University of California San Diego. After graduating with a BA and LLB(Hons) from Auckland, I served as an intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. I then had a number of legal roles including as a High Court Judges' Clerk in Wellington, a legal advisor at the Cambodian Defenders Project on Women's Rights in Phnom Penh, and a commercial litigator in New Zealand and Australia. During this period, I also received a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School (2005) and a Diploma in Te Ara Reo Māori from Te Wananga o Aotearoa (2007). I left legal practice in 2010 to raise my children and study for a PhD, which was awarded in 2015. I began working as an academic at Otago in 2016.


Toy-Cronin, B. (2024). Vexatious or vulnerable: Permitted roles for litigants in person in civil courts. Social & Legal Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/09646639241248921 Journal - Research Article

Howden-Chapman, P., Crane, J., Keall, M., Pierse, N., Baker, M. G., Cunningham, C., … Aspinall, C., Bennett, J., Bierre, S., … Chisholm, E., Davies, C., Fougere, G., Fraser, B., Fyfe, C., Grant, L., … Halley, C., Logan-Riley, A., … Olin, C., Ombler, J., O'Sullivan, K., Pehi, T., Penny, G., … Randal, E., … Robson, B., Ruru, J., Shaw, C., … Teariki, M. A., Telfar Barnard, L., Tiatia, R., Toy-Cronin, B., … Viggers, H., … Zhang, W. (2024). He Kāinga Oranga: Reflections on 25 years of measuring the improved health, wellbeing and sustainability of healthier housing. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 54(3), 290-315. doi: 10.1080/03036758.2023.2170427 Journal - Research Other

Toy-Cronin, B. (2023, November). Non-lawyer advocates and pseudolaw. Verbal presentation at the Pseudolaw and the administration of justice conference, [Hybrid]. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Toy-Cronin, B. (2023, December). Active judging and access to justice. Verbal presentation at the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (LSAANZ): Voice, resistance and repair: Law and living together, Sydney, Australia. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Toy-Cronin, B. (2023). Access to justice for consumers. In K. Tokeley & V. Stace (Eds.), Consumer law in New Zealand. (3rd ed.) (pp. 669-698). Wellington, New Zealand: LexisNexis. Chapter in Book - Research

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