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Conference Paper

Publication Date



Administrative courts; Dispute resolution (Law); Legal services--Design; User-centered system design; Canada


This study explores the adaptation of design thinking to administrative justice. Design thinking – or human centred design – approaches services and products from the perspective of the user. This perspective too often is missing in the design of administrative tribunals, most of which have been developed top-down to serve the needs of a particular policy interest of the Government of the day.

This paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, I review the development of design thinking in the context of legal services and legal organizations. In the second part, I explore the implications of this development for administrative justice, particularly in the context of the establishment of new tribunals, and situate the evolution of design thinking in Canadian administrative justice within broader trends in the common law world. I conclude with the criteria I suggest should be applied to determine if the design of a new administrative tribunal is successful.


Paper presented to British Columbia Continuing Legal Education (BC CLE) Administrative Law Conference, November 18, 2016.