State Office of Administrative Hearings
State Office of Administrative Hearings

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Representing Yourself at SOAH

Welcome to SOAH

The State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) was created by the Texas Legislature in 1991.  SOAH’s independent, experienced administrative law judges (ALJs) conduct hearings in cases referred by approximately 50 state agencies and governmental entities.  SOAH’s mission is to conduct fair, prompt, and efficient hearings and mediations and to provide fair, reasoned, and timely decisions.

SOAH is headquartered in Austin, and it has field offices in Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, and San Antonio.  Click the links above for all office locations and directions.

As you learn more about SOAH, simply click on any word highlighted in blue to be taken to that section of SOAH's website.  Click on the "Back" button of your browser to return to this page, or on the Not an Attorney button at the top of the page.

If you have a specific question, you could try the Frequently Asked Questions page first.

The Chief ALJ

The head of SOAH is the Chief ALJ, who is appointed by the Governor for a two-year term with the advice and consent of the Senate.  The Chief ALJ’s role is to manage and coordinate all agency operations and to ensure that SOAH carries out its mission.  Lesli Ginn is SOAH’s Chief ALJ.

Administrative Law Judges

A SOAH Administrative Law Judge is an experienced attorney who conducts conferences before the hearing, issues pre-hearing orders, and controls the course of the hearing.  When the hearing on the merits is convened, the ALJ presides and listens to the parties’ evidence.  After the hearing, the ALJ will consider the evidence and write a Proposal for Decision that recommends an outcome.  In some cases, the ALJ has the authority to issue the final decision.  But, in the majority of cases, the final decision is made by a person within the state agency or by the board or commission that referred the matter to SOAH.

SOAH is divided into several teams according to referring agency and subject matter. The teams are: Mediation; Administrative License Revocation; Economic; Licensing; Natural Resources; Tax; and Utilities.  ALJs typically serve on several teams and hear a variety of types of cases.  Click here to learn more about each team.

Right to Counsel

Parties to a SOAH hearing may appear on their own behalf (“pro se”) or through a representative.  Parties are not entitled to have a lawyer appointed for them.  The staff of the referring agency is usually represented by a state-employed attorney.


SOAH conducts mediations through specially trained ALJs.  A contested case at SOAH may go to mediation usually by request of the parties. Mediation gives parties an opportunity to work with an ALJ (who is not the presiding ALJ in the case) to seek an agreed resolution.  SOAH can also provide mediators for other disputes by interagency contract.  Such matters have included employee disputes, contract claims, and litigation pending in state or federal court.