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Dr Bridgette Toy-Cronin

Director
Senior Lecturer

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

Tel +64 21 279 0488
Bridgette Toy-Cronin 186Email bridgette.toy-cronin@otago.ac.nz

Background

Tēnā koutou katoa. I am a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law and lead the programme of research into civil justice. 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 and, after graduating with a BA and LLB(Hons), 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.

Research

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. My research is conducted in collaboration with Research Fellows who work on a range of projects. The current fellow is Kayla Stewart.

I research in three areas:

  1. Litigants and 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


Litigants and disputants

I examine a variety of ways to support people to access the justice system including information and self-help services. My research examines the experience of people accessing the system as litigants in person (without legal representation), as well as lawyering services and the future of these services.

I am a co-director of the Otago Centre for Law and Society.

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.

Teaching

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 (section on Law and the Community)
  • LAWS 350 Lawyers, Clients, and the Profession

Supervision

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

Students

Current students

  • Margaret Courtney (LLM) (with Professor Jacinta Ruru)

Completed students

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

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Publications

Toy-Cronin, B., Choe, L., & Stewart, K. (2021). “A lot of people are paying like $5 a week for 20 years”: New Zealand lawyers, discounts, and payment plans. International Journal of the Legal Profession. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/09695958.2020.1863219

Toy-Cronin, B. (2021). Power in civil litigation. Policy Quarterly, 17(2), 29-34.

Stewart, K., & Toy-Cronin, B. (2020). What is pro bono and how much do lawyers do? New Zealand Law Journal, (December), 414-420.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2020). Compounding the abuse: Family violence, damages and the Tenancy Tribunal. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 29(2), 201-224.

Toy-Cronin, B., Pirini, M., Turner, D., & Duncan, D. (2020). An evaluation of legal information chatbots: Useability, utility, and accuracy. Commissioned by Citizen AI, Community Law Wellington & Community Law Centres O Aotearoa. 58p.

Commissioned Report for External Body

Toy-Cronin, B., Pirini, M., Turner, D., & Duncan, D. (2020). An evaluation of legal information chatbots: Useability, utility, and accuracy. Commissioned by Citizen AI, Community Law Wellington & Community Law Centres O Aotearoa. 58p.

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Working Paper; Discussion Paper; Technical Report

Stewart, K., Toy-Cronin, B., & Choe, L. (2020). New Zealand lawyers, pro bono, and access to justice. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago Legal Issues Centre. 32p. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9952

Turner, D., & Toy-Cronin, B. (2020). Online legal information self-help in Aotearoa: An agenda for action. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago. 60p. [Technical/Scientific Report].

Toy-Cronin, B., Irvine, B., Stewart, K., & Henaghan, M. (2017). The wheels of justice: Understanding the pace of civil high court cases. Dunedin, New Zealand: Legal Issues Centre, University of Otago. 131p. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/7762

Toy-Cronin, B., Billington, J., Smith, M., & Dixit, K. (2016). New business models for legal services. Dunedin, New Zealand: Legal Issues Centre, University of Otago. 15p. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/legal-issues/publications/index.html

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Other Research Output

Pender, N. & Toy-Cronin, B. (2017, July). Practitioners and self-represented litigants. NZLS CLE, Wellington, New Zealand. [Webinar].

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Chapter in Book - Research

Toy-Cronin, B. (2018). Ethical issues in insider-outsider research. In R. Iphofen & M. Tolich (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research ethics. (pp. 455-469). London, UK: SAGE.

Toy-Cronin, B., & Byrne, K. (2017). Medical legal aspects of regional anesthesia: Legal perspective. In B. T. Finucane & B. T. H. Tsui (Eds.), Complications of regional anesthesia: Principles of safe practice in local and regional anesthesia. (3rd ed.) (pp. 483-488). Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-49386-2_35

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Journal - Research Article

Toy-Cronin, B., Choe, L., & Stewart, K. (2021). “A lot of people are paying like $5 a week for 20 years”: New Zealand lawyers, discounts, and payment plans. International Journal of the Legal Profession. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/09695958.2020.1863219

Toy-Cronin, B. (2021). Power in civil litigation. Policy Quarterly, 17(2), 29-34.

Stewart, K., & Toy-Cronin, B. (2020). What is pro bono and how much do lawyers do? New Zealand Law Journal, (December), 414-420.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2020). Compounding the abuse: Family violence, damages and the Tenancy Tribunal. New Zealand Universities Law Review, 29(2), 201-224.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2019). Leaving emotion out: Litigants in person and emotion in New Zealand civil courts. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 9(5), 684-701. doi: 10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1034

Toy-Cronin, B. (2019). Explaining and changing the price of litigation services. New Zealand Law Journal, 9, 310-319.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2019). Justice customers: Consumer language in New Zealand justice. Policy Quarterly, 15(4), 57-63. doi: 10.26686/pq.v15i4.5925

Adams, J., & Toy-Cronin, B. (2018). Nurturing tradition in Dunedin: Courthouses, lawyers, and justice. Otago Law Review, 15(2), 257-284.

Toy-Cronin, B., Irvine, B., Nichols, D., Cunningham, S. J., & Tkacukova, T. (2018). Testing the promise of access to justice through online courts. International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, 5(1-2), 39-48.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2018). Beyond “doing a few interviews”. New Zealand Law Journal, (November), 325-329.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2017). A defence of the right to litigate in person. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 37(1), 238-254. doi: 10.1093/ojls/gqw027

Toy-Cronin, B. (2017). From litigator to researcher: The burdens and benefits of moving between the profession and the academy. International Journal of the Legal Profession, 24(3), 341-358. doi: 10.1080/09695958.2016.1228532

Toy-Cronin, B. (2016). Counsel's tables? Seating counsel and litigants-in-person in the courtroom. New Zealand Law Journal, 4, 148-151.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2016). I ain't no fool: Deciding to litigate in person in the civil courts. New Zealand Law Review, 4, 723-754.

Toy-Cronin, B. A. (2010). What is forced marriage: Towards a definition of forced marriage as a crime against humanity. Columbia Journal of Gender & Law, 19(2), 539-590.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2002). Waiver of the rule against bias. Te Mata Koi Auckland University Law Review, 9(3), 850-882.

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Journal - Research Other

Toy-Cronin, B. (2017). [Review of the book Feminist judgments of Aotearoa New Zealand Te Rino: A two-stranded rope]. New Zealand Women's Law Journal, 1, 192-199. [Book Review].

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Journal - Professional & Other Non-Research Articles

Toy-Cronin, B. (2016). Just an hour of your time? Providing limited (unbundled) assistance to litigants in person. LawTalk, 884, 20-23.

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Toy-Cronin, B. (2015). Searching for a legal oasis: Legal service provision and the "justice gap". Proceedings of the Family Law Conference. (pp. 411-418). Wellington, NZ: NZLS CLE. [Full Paper]

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Tkacukova, T., Gee, M., Toy-Cronin, B., & Irvine, B. (2019). Corpus linguistics as a methodological tool for socio-legal studies. Socio Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Annual Conference. Retrieved from https://slsa2019.com

Toy-Cronin, B., & Adams, J. (2018). Courthouses, ceremony and the legal profession: A case study on Dunedin's court re-opening. Proceedings of the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (LSAANZ), the Canadian Law and Society Association (CLSA) and the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) of the UK Joint International Conference: Inclusion, Exclusion, Democracy. (pp. 21). Retrieved from http://www.uowblogs.com/lsaanz2018

Toy-Cronin, B. (2015). A limited welcome: Methods and motives for communicating outsider status to litigants in person. Proceedings of the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (LSAANZ): Inside Out. (pp. 49-50). Retrieved from http://www.aomevents.com/LSAANZ2015

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Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Toy-Cronin, B., Miller, F., & Watson, L. (2019, July). Rethinking civil justice in Aotearoa: How to make it accessible. Panel discussion at the University of Otago Winter Symposium Series, Wellington, New Zealand.

Toy-Cronin, B., & Irvine, B. (2017, December). Accurate explanation of a dispute in an online court: A study design. Verbal presentation at the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand (LSAANZ) Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2016, June). Obsessed about obsessives? The challenge of persistent litigants. Verbal presentation at the Law and Society Association (LSA) Annual Meeting: At the Delta: Belonging, Place and Visions of Law and Social Change, New Orleans, USA.

Toy-Cronin, B. (2013, November). Insights from self-represented litigants: Perceptions of opposing counsel conduct: Rules and realities. Verbal presentation at the Australia and New Zealand Legal Ethics Colloquium (ANZLEC) 4: Challenging Professional Boundaries, Adelaide, Australia.

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Awarded Doctoral Degree

Toy-Cronin, B. A. (2015). Keeping up appearances: Accessing New Zealand's civil courts as a litigant in person (PhD). University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/6003

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