Jennifer Raso, Reasons and Justification, Tuesday, February 23 11.30 EST

The next speaker in this year’s Administrative Law & Governance Colloquium on “Front-Line Administration” is Professor Jennifer Raso of the University of Alberta. Register here for the Zoom webinar with Professor Raso next Tuesday, February 23 at 11.30.

Prof Raso will be discussing her work on front-line decision-makers. Here is the abstract from her important University of Toronto Law Journal article on the subject, “Unity in the Eye of the Beholder: Reasons for Decision in Theory and Practice in the Ontario Works Program“:

This article interrogates reasons for decision, a central concept in Canadian public law scholarship. Using spatiotemporal scale as an analytical tool, it shows how unified reasons may be more easily recognized at the scale of judicially reviewable administrative decisions common to public law scholarship, yet elusive at the scale of front-line decision making. It then investigates how a variety of mechanisms, including data entries and notes, function together behind the front lines of social assistance agencies in the province of Ontario. Drawing on qualitative research into caseworkers’ decision-making practices, this article illustrates how the ‘reasons’ for a particular administrative decision may be multiplied and fractured across software programs, emails, and physical case files. Further, it demonstrates how notes are both more and less than reasons. As they perform three internal communicative tasks central to administrative governance – recording evidence, explaining decisions, and justifying potentially contentious outcomes to other administrative insiders – notes facilitate decision-making practices that ensure institutionally acceptable outcomes are reached, even as one note may not fully capture the logic underlying a particular decision. Ultimately, this article aims to motivate theoretically inclined legal scholars to reconsider the concept of reasons for decision in light of the decision-making practices of front-line administrators.

An open-access version is available on SSRN.

You can also register here for the remaining sessions in this year’s Colloquium.

This content has been updated on February 19, 2021 at 04:17.