Professor Tania Sourdin
Head of School & Dean
Newcastle Law School
- Phone:(02) 492 15839
Transparency, technology and teaching: an eye for justice
Professor Tania Sourdin’s career has spanned the globe as a consultant and specialist expert in a range of complex programs across the justice sector.
With an extensive career focusing on justice, litigation, conflict avoidance and dispute resolution, Tania has influenced legislative reform initiatives, standards and cultural change for dispute resolution. She has also taught judges in a range of programs that include court craft, civil procedure, decision making, complex behaviour and in judicial orientation programs.
Having written extensively about justice issues, Tania’s work on boards, committees and working groups continues to expand across the country and internationally. One recent achievement is chairing and organising judicial conferences for the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Justice from 2008 – 2014. Tania continues to support the UAE Ministry of Justice in the area of justice reform.
Fortuitously, this journey has now led her to explore new challenges as Dean and Head of School at the University of Newcastle Law School. “It’s been a very broad and interesting part of my life that I’m looking forward to continuing at Newcastle,” Tania says.
From empiricism to innovation
“I started off as a lawyer before becoming more of an empirical researcher looking at what happens in the justice system. I’d describe the justice system quite broadly in that it includes complaints through to formal court adjudication,” Tania explains.
“A lot of the work I’ve done in the past has been around looking at how people experience court and justice processes: how long they take, how much they cost and how those processes can be improved.”
The University of Newcastle Law School is unique in its size and scope, which is precisely what attracted Tania to the position. “I’ve always been very interested in the law school at UON because it’s such a practical law school with a unique hands-on clinical program,” Tania says. This hands-on approach allows students at UON have the opportunity to work with clients under the supervision of legal practitioners at the University of Newcastle Legal Centre and provide a range of outreach clinics such as the highly successful Law On The Beach program.
The relatively smaller size of the UON Law School is not only beneficial for students, it also means that Tania is able to keep up her dual focus as Dean and continue her sizeable research.
Technology and the practice of law
Tania’s research focus is intense, with a current slant on exploring innovations within the judicial system. “I’m exploring how well they work, whether they can be replicated what prevents them being replicated and how they can be extended in certain circumstances?” Tania explains.
The range of technologies that are currently being utilised in the judicial system posit some novel questions that Tania’s keen to explore. “These technologies raise an interesting point about how much humans actually need to be involved in the delivery of justice in the longer term. The question around how humans remain involved, and how much humans add in the justice sector is intriguing,” Tania says.
There are three levels of broad levels of change: supportive technology, replacement technology and disruptive technology, and each offers differing levels of support and change.
Tania suggests that it’s inevitable that smaller cases will progress through more technologically-aided processes into the future, which is a good thing. “It can be easier for people to access information and to access systems without having to actually arrive at the court or to be doing things between the hours of 9 to 5 which is often expected in the justice sector,” Tania says.
In the criminal sphere Tania explains that there could be some cost savings through technology, particularly in preparation for a trial. “There are many areas of innovations using e-Discovery that can lead to cost-savings. It’s been used a great deal in the US where there’s a greater need to uncover all relevant documents relating to a court case. The software used in e-discovery allows you to find information far more readily, and cost-effectively. Doing this online is much easier than having people sitting in a room sorting through hard copy.”
Social media, transparency and the law
Legal and court-reporting has taken on a new slant with the uptake of social media sites by news organisations. Rather than having to wait until the following day to read a court report in the paper, the commentary is immediate, is reported from the court and is online in seconds. This uptake of social media and the immediacy of reportage online is something that raises conflicting views in Tania. “It often takes a long time for a complex matter to be sorted out and sometimes the commentary that arises is not very sophisticated or informed, and can sometimes be misleading as it’s only based on a short interaction.”
“However, I do think that it’s good that there is transparency around the justice system. It is intended to be open and accessible, but most people don’t want to go and sit in a courtroom when a case that they’re interested in is being dealt with. So having faster online, on-time reporting makes it easier for people to understand what’s going on in the justice system – which I think is a very good thing.”
Tania utilises social media in a professional capacity to expand her contacts and share new developments in the judicial scene. “For me, it’s a good learning experience and a way to better understand what’s going on in the justice sector more broadly. Otherwise I think there’s mainly a temptation to talk to other academics and senior professionals. With LinkedIn you talk with people in all parts of the justice system, so I think that’s very useful,” Tania adds.
“With Twitter it’s a different interaction: it’s so fast I can do it very quickly. I like the immediacy of Twitter too. I was recently writing an article on ‘priming’ in justice and as I was writing it there was an article that led me to another that helped me extend my thinking in a way that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been accessing Twitter,” Tania says.
Although Tania is now based in Newcastle, her research continues to spread its wings across the country and continents. “I’ve got projects happening in South Australia, along with judicial education work. There’s also an interesting project that I’m collaborating with the Business areas on complaints and the return on investment on good complaints management and which involves looking at the complaints processes in big organisations and thinking about how complaints data can improve products and services as well as the customer experience.”
“I’m also writing about ‘Judge vs Robot’ which is fascinating. I run an international collaborative network under the Law and Society Association which has around 40 lawyers and judges in it, and we look at judging – and that’s a particular area I’m fascinated in. In particular, I’m intrigued by the moral and ethical dilemmas – what happens when people start to consider artificial intelligence in different ways as well?”
Could robots replacing judges remove subjectivity?
“When you have more sophisticated algorithms that consider the legislation you may remove some of the subjectivity. However, that does come at a cost as judges also have a role as commentators and also test a lot of realities within our society. The interesting thing about artificial intelligence is that it’s often seen as apart from humans as you have a computer doing it whereas what we know is that, increasingly into the future, humans will be enhanced with artificial intelligence. I think this is really interesting piece as well and one that’s worthy of exploring.”
With a keen focus on the University of Newcastle Law School and a continued dedication to research Tania will continue to explore the way that justice shapes public policy and its impact on society. It’s an exciting area in the field of justice, and one that Tania is keen to follow.
Professor Sourdin has published and presented widely on a range of topics.
Professor Tania Sourdin is the Dean of the University of Newcastle Law School. She was previously the Foundation Chair and Director of the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation (ACJI) at Monash University in Australia. Professor Sourdin has led national research projects and produced important recommendations for justice reform. In the past two decades, she has conducted qualitative and quantitative research projects into aspects of the justice system systems in 11 Courts and Tribunals and five external dispute resolution schemes. Other research has focussed on justice innovation, technology, delay and systemic reforms.
Professor Sourdin is the author of books, articles and papers, and has published and presented widely on a range of topics including justice issues, mediation, conflict resolution, collaborative law, artificial intelligence, technology and organisational change. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney and has worked as a senior Tribunal member in respect of appellate matters and as a mediator for more than 25 years. She has worked extensively overseas as an expert consultant in relation to disputes and dispute system design. In 2014 she was appointed as the National Broadband Network (NBN) Industry Dispute Adviser in Australia and also co chaired the 2014 National Mediation Conference. In 2015 she won the Deans award for Research Impact in relation to her work on behavioural change in the justice sector.
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of Technology Sydney
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws, University of New South Wales
- Master of Laws, University of Technology Sydney
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Professor of Law||University of Newcastle
Newcastle Law School
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Book (8 outputs)
|2016||Sourdin T, Alternative Dispute Resolution (2016)|
|2013||Sourdin T, Zariski A, The Multi-tasking Judge Comparative Judicial Dispute Resolution, 270 (2013)|
|2012||Sourdin TM, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Law Book Co, Australia (2012)|
|2008||Sourdin T, Alternative Dispute Resolution, 490 (2008)|
|Show 5 more books|
Chapter (17 outputs)
|2016||sourdin T, 'A Broader View of Justice?', Resolving Civil Disputes, LexisNexis Australia, Chatswood, NSW 19-36 (2016) [B1]|
|2015||Sourdin TM, 'When to step away and when to step up', So You Want to Be a Leader: Influential people reveal how to succeed in public life, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne VIC 131-145 (2015)|
|2015||Sourdin TM, 'A broader view of justice?', The Future of Dispute Resolution, LexisNexis Butterworths, Australia 155-166 (2015)|
|2015||Sourdin TM, 'Reforming civil procedure and Alternative Dispute Resolution', Ten Years of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 (NSW) A Decade of Insights and Guide to Future Litigation, Lawbook Co, Australia 191-208 (2015)|
|2013||Sourdin TM, 'Introduction', The multi-tasking judge: Comparative judicial dispute resolution, Thomson Reuters, Australia 1-20 (2013)|
|2013||Sourdin TM, 'Facilitative judging: Science sense and sensibility', The multi-tasking judge: Comparative judicial dispute resolution, Thomson Reuters, Australia 231-247 (2013)|
|2013||Sourdin TM, Alexander N, 'Developments in ADR', Australian Courts: Serving democracy and its publics, Australian Institute of Judicial Administration, Australia (2013)|
|2013||Sourdin TM, 'Australia's civil justice system: Developing a multi-option response', Trends in State courts 2013: 25th anniversary edition, National Center for State Courts, US 78-84 (2013)|
|2013||Sourdin TM, Zariski A, 'Judicial dispute resolution - A global approach', Global Legal issues 2012, Korea Legislation Research Institute, Korea (2013)|
|2011||Sourdin TM, Liyange C, 'The Promise and reality of online dispute resolution in Australia', Online dispute resolution: Theory and practice: a treatise on technology and dispute resolution, Eleven Publishing, Egypt (2011)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, 'Sustainable outcomes through effective conflict management', Seeking environmental justice: probing the boundaries, Rodopi Publishing, New York (2008)|
|Show 14 more chapters|
Journal article (71 outputs)
Brennan C, Sourdin T, Williams J, Burstyner N, Gill C, 'Consumer vulnerability and complaint handling: Challenges, opportunities and dispute system design', International Journal of Consumer Studies, (2017)
Â© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Effectively designed complaint handling systems play a key role in enabling vulnerable consumers to complain and obtain redress. This article ... [more]
Â© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Effectively designed complaint handling systems play a key role in enabling vulnerable consumers to complain and obtain redress. This article examines current research into consumer vulnerability, highlighting its multidimensional and expansive nature. Contemporary understandings of consumer vulnerability recognize that the interaction between a wide range of market and consumer characteristics can combine to place any individual at risk of vulnerability. While this broad definition of consumer vulnerability reflects the complex reality of consumers' experiences, it poses a key challenge for designers of complaint handling systems: how can they identify and respond to an issue which can potentially affect everyone? Drawing on current research and practice in the United Kingdom and Australia, the article analyses the impact of consumer vulnerability on third party dispute resolution schemes and considers the role these complaint handling organizations can play in supporting their complainants. Third party complaint handling organizations, including a range of Alternative Dispute Resolution services such as ombudsman organizations, can play a key role in increasing access to justice for vulnerable consumer groups and provide specific assistance for individual complainants during the process. It is an opportune time to review whether the needs of consumers at risk of vulnerability are being met within complaint processes and the extent to which third party complaint handlers support those who are most vulnerable to seek redress. Empowering vulnerable consumers to complain presents specific challenges. The article discusses the application of a new model of consumer dispute system design to show how complaint handling organizations can meet the needs of the most vulnerable consumers throughout the process.
Sourdin T, Cornes R, 'Implications for therapeutic judging (TJ) of a psychoanalytical approach to the judicial role Â¿ Reflections on Robert Burt's contribution', International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 48 8-14 (2016) [C1]
|2016||Sourdin TM, Hioe A, 'Mediation and Psychological Priming', The Arbitrator and Mediator, 35 76-90 (2016) [C1]|
|2016||Burstyner N, Sourdin TM, Liyange C, Ofoghi B, 'Why do some civil cases end up in a full hearing? Formulating litigation and process referral indicia through text analysis', Journal of Judicial Administration, 25 257-295 (2016) [C1]|
|2015||Sourdin TM, 'Dealing with tax disputes about taxation in a 'fair' way', Journal of Australian Taxation, 17 169-223 (2015) [C1]|
|2015||Sourdin TM, 'Evaluating alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in disputes about taxation', The Arbitrator and Mediator, 34 19-32 (2015) [C1]|
|2015||Sourdin TM, 'The role of the courts in the new justice system', Penn State Yearbook on Arbitration and Mediation, (2015)|
|2014||Sourdin TM, Russell S, 'Community model cuts crime', Law Institute Journal, 88 28-28 (2014)|
|2014||Sourdin TM, Wallace N, 'The dilemmas posed by self-represented litigants: The dark side', Journal of Judicial Administration, 24 61-70 (2014) [C1]|
|2014||Sourdin TM, 'Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to save time', The Arbitrator and Mediator, 33 61-72 (2014) [C1]|
|2014||Sourdin TM, 'Good faith participation in mediation: An Australian perspective', ACResolution, Spring 31-34 (2014)|
|2014||Sourdin TM, 'International dispatch: ADR trends Down Under', Dispute Resolution Magazine, 20 3-3 (2014)|
|2014||Sourdin TM, 'Why judges should not meet privately with parties in mediation but should be involved in settlement conference work', Journal of Arbitration and Mediation, 4 99-109 (2014)|
|2014||Sourdin TM, 'Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) principles: From negotiation to mediation', Nagoya University Journal of Law and Politics, 258 179-193 (2014)|
|2014||Sourdin TM, Burstyner N, 'Justice delayed is justice denied', Victoria University Law and Justice Journal, 4 46-60 (2014) [C1]|
|2013||Richardson E, Sourdin TM, 'Mind the gap: Making evidence-based decisions about self-represented litigants', Journal of Judicial Administration, 22 191-206 (2013) [C1]|
|2013||Sourdin TM, 'Innovation and alternative dispute resolution', The Arbitrator and Mediator, 32 111-126 (2013) [C1]|
|2013||Sourdin TM, 'Resolving disputes without courts?', The Arbitrator and Mediator, 32 25-40 (2013) [C1]|
Sourdin T, 'Good Faith, Bad Faith? Making an Effort in Dispute Resolution', Victoria University Law and Justice Journal, 2 (2013) [C1]
|2013||Sourdin TM, Burstyner N, 'Cost and time hurdles in civil litigation: exploring the impact of pre-action requirements', Journal of Civil Litigation and Practice, 2 66-84 (2013) [C1]|
|2012||Sourdin TM, 'Not teaching ADR in law schools? Implications for law students, clients and the ADR field', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 23 148-156 (2012) [C1]|
|2012||Sourdin TM, 'Teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Law Schools: Developing the law curriculum to meet the needs of the modern legal practitioner', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 23 148-148 (2012)|
|2012||Richardson E, Sourdin T, Wallace N, 'Self-Represented Litigants: Gathering Useful Information (2012)|
|2012||Richardson E, Sourdin T, Wallace N, 'Self Represented Litigants: Literature Review (2012)|
|2011||Sourdin TM, 'Five reasons why judges should conduct settlement conferences', Monash University Law Review, 37 145-170 (2011) [C1]|
|2011||Sourdin TM, 'Making litigants more agreeable?', Alternative Law Journal, 36 203-203 (2011)|
|2011||Sourdin TM, 'Thematic issue: Reporting on research from the NADRAC Forum - Introduction', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 22 3-7 (2011)|
|2011||Ojelabi L, Sourdin TM, 'Using a values-based approach in mediation', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 22 258-266 (2011) [C1]|
|2010||Sourdin TM, 'Poor quality mediation - A system failure', ADR Bulletin, 11 (2010)|
|2010||Sourdin TM, 'Conflict is inevitable...new obligations to try to settle', Law Society Journal, 48 71-73 (2010)|
|2010||Sourdin TM, 'Making an attempt to resolve disputes before using courts? We all have obligations', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 21 225-233 (2010)|
|2009||Sourdin TM, 'Mediation styles and their impact: Lessons from the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria research project', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 20 142-152 (2009)|
|2009||Sourdin TM, Balvin N, 'Mediation in the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria: A summary of the results', ADR Bulletin, 11 (2009)|
|2009||Sourdin TM, 'From accreditation to quality mediation practice - next steps?', ADR Bulletin, 11 (2009)|
|2009||Sourdin T, 'Mediation in the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria (2009)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, Thorpe L, 'Consumer perceptions of dispute resolution processes', Competition and Consumer Law Journal, 15 (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, Gee T, 'Mediation training: Family dispute resolution - series 1/ Basic Family Mediation Skill', Journal of Family Studies, 14 131-133 (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, 'Mediating high conflict and family violence - series 2 and 3 review', Journal of Family Studies, 14 (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, Thorpe L, 'How do financial services consumers access complaints and dispute resolution processes?', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, 19 25-41 (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, 'Avoiding the credentialing wars: Mediator accreditation in Australia', The Arbitrator and Mediator, 27 (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin TM, 'Mediator credentialing', ACR Workplace Newsletter, (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin T, 'Conflict Resolution e-Journal Number 1 (June 2007) (2008)|
|2008||Sourdin T, Balvin N, 'Interim Evaluation of Dispute Settlement Centre Victoria Projects: The Neighbourhood Justice Centre Project Â¿ The Corio/Norlane Community Mediation Project (2008)|
|2007||Sourdin TM, 'An alternative for who? Access to ADR processes', ADR Bulletin, 10 26-27 (2007)|
|2007||Sourdin T, 'Consumer Experience on Complaints Handling and Dispute Resolution - A Research Study Undertaken in Victoria, Australia (2007)|
|2007||Sourdin T, 'Accrediting Mediators - The New National Mediation Accreditation Scheme (Australia) (2007)|
|Show 68 more journal articles|
Conference (2 outputs)
Carlson JL, Armstrong C, Sourdin T, Watts M, Dean A, 'Demontrating Return on Investment of Effective Complaint Management: A Research Synthesis and Agenda for Future Research. Proceedings of 2017 Academy of Marketing Conference.' (2017)
Vincent A, Sourdin T, Zeleznikow J, 'Criminal sentencing, intuition and decision support', ADVANCES AND INNOVATIONS IN SYSTEMS, COMPUTING SCIENCES AND SOFTWARE ENGINEERING (2007)
Report (2 outputs)
|2015||Sourdin T, Shanks A, 'Evaluating Alternative Dispute Resolution in Taxation Disputes -- Final Report' (2015)|
|2012||Sourdin TM, 'Family Support Program Literature Review, Research into the Family Support Program: Family Law Services', Monash University (2012)|
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||6|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
20181 grants / $8,000
Funding body: Ian Potter Foundation
20171 grants / $15,712
Restorative justice initiatives in the Hunter and Newcastleâs proclamation as a Restorative City$15,712
Funding body: NED Foundation
20163 grants / $66,659
Funding body: SOCAP Australia (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals Australia)
|Funding body||SOCAP Australia (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals Australia)|
|Project Team||Professor Tania Sourdin, Professor Martin Watts, Doctor Jamie Carlson, Emeritus Professor Alison Dean|
|Type Of Funding||Grant - Aust Non Government|
Consultation and development of a regulatory framework for pre injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE)$25,000
Funding body: State Insurance Regulatory Authority
|Funding body||State Insurance Regulatory Authority|
|Project Team||Professor Tania Sourdin|
|Type Of Funding||Other Public Sector - State|
Funding body: Office of the Information Commissioner (QLD)
|Funding body||Office of the Information Commissioner (QLD)|
|Project Team||Professor Tania Sourdin|
|Type Of Funding||Other Public Sector - State|
20151 grants / $36,364
Funding body: Law Foundation of SA Incorporated
|Funding body||Law Foundation of SA Incorporated|
|Project Team||Professor Tania Sourdin|
|Type Of Funding||Grant - Aust Non Government|
Number of supervisions
Total current UON EFTSL
|Commenced||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2017||Masters||Negotiation Decision Support Systems: Analysing Negotiations Under the Conditions of Risk||M Philosophy (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Consultant Supervisor|
|2017||PhD||An Investigation into Lawyer Attitudes to Mediation Conducted in Connection with Court Proceedings||PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2017||PhD||The Effects of Social Media-Expressed Complaints on the Firm||PhD (Management), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2016||PhD||What Makes a Good Mediator: Models, Approaches, Skills, Styles and Personal Qualities||PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Principal Supervisor|
|2015||PhD||Breaking Free from the Status Quo - the Way Forward for Fiduciary Duties in Australia||PhD (Law), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Principal Supervisor|
|Year||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2012||PhD||The legal and institutional framework for the enforcement of online consumer arbitration awards: evidence from Australia and Sri Lanka||Law, La Trobe University||Co-Supervisor|