Dr Bridgette Toy-Cronin discusses her research to better understand legal need in Aotearoa, funded by a grant from the Borrin Foundation’s recently introduced Access to Civil Justice focus area.
At the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation we believe law is essential to a flourishing society – one that is just, inclusive, tolerant and free. We’re here to make a difference to the lives of New Zealanders through the law. We do this by supporting legal research, education and scholarship through effective philanthropy.
Since our inaugural grants in 2018 our strategic focus areas have been the Criminal Justice System and Family Law. With greater attention needed to maintain and improve the civil justice system we have expanded our strategic focus areas to also include Access to Civil Justice.
One of the first grants in this new focus area is a project led by Dr Bridgette Toy-Cronin focused on understanding legal need in Aotearoa. The research will examine what type of legal assistance people need when seeking help for legal problems from Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The project aims to inform access to justice policy and resource, directing resource to where it is most needed.
CAB plays a vital role in providing free community legal help. For many people, they are the first point of contact when seeking assistance. CAB receive over 100,000 client queries each year.
Dr Toy-Cronin says “This is a rich source of information about the legal needs of people in Aotearoa New Zealand. We will be working with CAB and analysing the data for insights into the types of problems people are experiencing, the help they need, and any barriers they might face to accessing that help.”
Dr Toy-Cronin and Research Fellow Kayla Stewart will be carrying out the research, with input from Citizens Advice Bureau. Bridgette is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago – Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou, where she is also the Director of the Civil Justice Centre and Co-Director of the Otago Centre for Law and Society.