Access to Justice Innovations

We Have Twin Crises in Law

How might we design products and services that allow for better delivery of legal services to more people in society?

Are there ways to do it using technology and DIY measures?

This project considers what such interventions have been tried before, how they have fared, and what other measures might be tried in the future.

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Posts on Access to Justice
09/18/2014

Buscando: a holistic service portal for unaccompanied immigrant kids

In response to the surge of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children coming into the US over the past year, a group has come together in Maryland to produce a social service-finding portal for these kids. Buscando offers a very clean, usable platform for a child or her advocate to find the right kind of help. The site

08/05/2014

Text-enabled Legal Services

I’m working on a project right now to bring court reminder messaging systems into some California courts.  I’ve been reaching out to different open-source platforms that offer text-messaging systems to be customized in local installations. I’ll be publishing a full-blown write-up of the project soon enough — but first a note about another pilot going

07/25/2014

ZoningCheck: Easing the zoning clearance process

ZoningCheck is a legal web app to help business owners navigate zoning regulations.  It’s a winner of one of the grants from the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge from last year. It’s an Open Government app, that processes local city codes into searchable, navigable experiences online. Rather than going in person to a government center, a

07/22/2014

Devolving Legal Services out of law offices: Medical-Legal Partnerships

Among the many camps of ideas for how to increase access to justice, one of the strongest I keep returning to is Devolved Legal Services.  What I mean by this: How can we devolve legal services out of offices — out of legal bureaucracies — and into community spaces? How can we integrate legal help

07/21/2014

Roompact: Contracting & Conflict Resolution software for roommates

The New York Times profiled the start-up Roompact yesterday, framing it as a roommate dispute tool.  It also is a legal product — it’s a platform for two parties to come together and create a contract about the terms on which they’ll be roommates, and then flag potential violations & failures after the agreement is

07/20/2014

Project Nanny Van: a legal service design

Project Nanny Van is an excellent new example of creative legal service design.  Dan Jackson from Northeastern Law’s NuLawLab clued me in about it. The NuLawLab & its law students have been working with Rev Tank & Marisa Jahn in creating this mobile van that comes to locations where nannies might be congregating, and provides

07/18/2014

How will legal services evolve?

Related posts: Pangea Legal Services, lowbono immigration support Stephanie Kimbro on Connecting a Mobile Game to Real World Legal Services Legal Services Design Deck A Legal Design Manifesto Legal Design Ideas: Crowdsourcd Parking Ticket Map Reinvent Law: Richard Susskind on tech & access to law Immigrant Justice Corps legal incubator Legal Design Concept: How’s My

06/05/2014

Law for Normal People

Originally posted on the d.school’s Whiteboard: Over this past fellowship year, I’ve run so many workshops and pop-up classes on how to make law more engaging and usable for “normal people”. People with legal problems or who aren’t highly educated are not alone in this “normal” bucket. People with PhDs, highly paid professionals, even law

06/03/2014

Legal Design Ideas: Crowdsourcd Parking Ticket Map

One branch of Legal Design Ideas I’m working on is using crowdsourced information to improve transparency of how legal regulations are implemented & processes are carried out. An idea in this branch is a Parking Ticket Map — that could use a crowdsourced map like Ushahidi, or other reporting platforms. Individual users can report when

05/04/2014

Pangea Legal Services, lowbono immigration support

Pangea Legal Services is a San Francisco collective of lawyers who are working to support immigrants with legal support — through a low-bono and pro-bono model that provides services on a sliding scale of fees.   It works on asylum cases, deportations, DACA and U-visa applications, among other services. It also does policy work on

05/04/2014

Immigrant Justice Corps legal incubator

Immigrant Justice Corps is a fellowship program (or legal incubator) to train people to serve as legal assistants for immigrants in the US. Its application is currently open for a new round of fellows — with applications due in just over a week.  Both JDs and non-JDs can apply to serve immigrants through the Corps

05/03/2014

Expungement.io App for youth

A group out of Chicago, the Mikva Juvenile Justice Council, is making an app to help young people understand & go through an Expungement legal process. The Knight Foundation is funding the project through its Prototype fund. The project aims “To create a prototype version of Expunge.io, a mobile app designed to aid juvenile offenders

05/02/2014

Regulation of Law & Access to Justice at FutureLaw

Related posts: Access to Justice software DeborahRhode on Access to Justice & Unauthorized Practice of Law New Generation of Tech for Access to Justice The Problem of Legal Tech & Access to Justice Beyond Online Intake: access to justice solutions Access to Justice Tech: Concepts Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs Berkman Center Report on

04/28/2014

Modest Means Incubator project in California

Last week I attended the presentation about Modest Means Incubators at the State Bar of California. There were judges, private lawyers, law school admins, legal service providers, and court staff there to talk about how new models of legal practices can be built. The goal is to provide new access to lawyers to those with

04/20/2014

Court Hearing SMS Reminder systems

Two years ago, there started some talk about US courts using SMS and other phone-based communication to issue reminders for court hearings to people. It seems several other countries have already launched such pilots. The Qatari government’s Supreme Judiciary Council has one such program live, at Court Hearing SMS Reminder – Hukoomi – Qatar E-government.

04/17/2014

DeborahRhode on Access to Justice & Unauthorized Practice of Law

Related posts: New Generation of Tech for Access to Justice Access to Justice software The Problem of Legal Tech & Access to Justice Beyond Online Intake: access to justice solutions Access to Justice Tech: Concepts Mobile Dispute Resolution for Access to Justice in Afghanistan Access to justice, the problem Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs

04/16/2014

A Legal Design Manifesto

Related posts: The Program for Legal Tech & Design Legal Design Concept: How’s My Litigating? Book of Legal Design Patterns Notes on Legal Design Legal Concept Design: A Bar-Taking Robot The Problem of Legal Tech & Access to Justice Law is A Design Profession Legal Services Design Deck Good Consumer Law Design: Finding & Hiring

04/16/2014

Kiran Jain, City of Oakland attorney, on Law & Design

Lauren Dyson at Code for America wrote up an interview/discussion with Kiran Jain, an attorney in the City of Oakland who has been trained in design & is leading experiments in civic & legal design in the city.  She’s running workshops, launching projects, and piloting new ideas using the design methods she learned at the

03/09/2014

Online Court Project from the University of Michigan

I’ve started scouting out different courtroom based service & system designs.  Here is one, that my colleague Briane alerted to me: the Online Court Project based out of the University of Michigan.  It features new ideas to integrate tech and automation into court processes. Led by U-M Law School professor J.J. Prescott, this Global Challenges

03/07/2014

The Parole Hearing Data Project

Check out a new data-gathering & redesign project from Nikki Zeichner, The Parole Hearing Data Project. The Parole Hearing Data Project is a repository of New York State parole hearing data based on: 1 records scraped from the New York State Parole Board’s website; and 2 parole hearing transcripts crowdsourced with help from attorneys, advocates

03/04/2014

Tools for Citizens

The recent UX Sprint for Security & Privacy Tools in San Francisco featured a great list of projects that work to empower citizens. Most center on: How can we enable citizens to communicate free of government surveillance? and How can we help people report on & document atrocities and abuses? Here is a list of

03/04/2014

Fixed: Parking Ticket advocacy

Fixed – The easiest way to fix a parking ticket. Fixed is an app that lets you hand off your parking ticket to the company, for them to fight it for you on your behalf. You pay them nothing if you lose the contest and have to pay the fine. You have to pay them

03/03/2014

NYC Housing Court Navigators

via NYC Housing Court – Resolution Assistance Program (RAP). New York just began a pilot program of Court Navigators for Housing Courts in some jurisdictions.  Non-lawyers would help self-represented litigants navigate the court system. The Court Navigator Program was launched in February 2014 to support and assist unrepresented litigants – people who do not have

03/03/2014

Better Lawyering for the Poor

via Better Lawyering for the Poor – NYTimes.com. The New York Times Editorial Board published a piece spotlighting various New York-based initiatives that might transform the structure of the legal industry, and thus open more access to legal resources. These highlighted projects include 3rd year law students in New York can take the Bar in

02/28/2014

The Justice Index

  The Justice Index is a new project out of the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School. It collects & displays data about how people in the US — particularly those who are traditionally disadvantaged in the legal system — are faring when it comes to access to legal aid services

02/12/2014

Reinvent Law: Richard Susskind on tech & access to law

This visual made it up to Twitter last Friday, but here it is for a more permanent home on Open Law Lab. It was a great conference & an inspiring keynote from Richard Susskind — thinking twenty, thirty years into the future. Related posts: New Generation of Tech for Access to Justice Access to Justice

02/07/2014

Access to Justice software

Related posts: Beyond Online Intake: access to justice solutions Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs New Generation of Tech for Access to Justice Berkman Center Report on Access to Justice in courts DeborahRhode on Access to Justice & Unauthorized Practice of Law The Problem of Legal Tech & Access to Justice Access to justice, the

01/21/2014

Beyond Online Intake: access to justice solutions

Here is a recent slide presentation of online intake models from a few different projects around the country. Webinar Next Week: Beyond Online Intake: Looking at Triage and Expert Systems from Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (LSNTAP) Related posts: Tech Tips for Legals New Generation of Tech for Access to Justice Mobile Dispute Resolution

01/16/2014

The Rechtwijzer justice platform

In the Netherlands, HiiL & the Dutch Legal Aid Board are developing a second version of their Rechtwijzer platform, to provide consumers with legal help. Here is the summary of their 1.0 platform (mostly around triage — getting someone with a legal problem to services) and then the 2.0 platform (around resolving disputes online). Conflicts

12/23/2013

Law By Design: consumer law pop-up class at the d.school

Through the Program for Legal Tech & Design, I’m co-teaching a 5-session class at Stanford’s d.school this January & February. It will be a hands-on session on how to make law more usable to people — and how to help make people law-smart, and in control of their legal futures. If you’re interested in attending,

12/07/2013

Legal Innovations from the UK

Related posts: Legal Barbershop The Program for Legal Tech & Design On Games & Legal Complexities: an interview with Ida Benedetto Legal Health Checklist A Legal Design Manifesto Legal Studies Law Map by Oxford University Legal Claim Maps Legal Visual Mnemonics: Breaches of Contracts The Good Notice Project: complex legal information design Legal Concept Design:

11/25/2013

Notes on Legal Design

I originally posted these up on the d.school blog The Whiteboard, earlier today. Related posts: Legal Design Jam: a sketchnote Getting to Meaningful Designs Iron Tech Law & Teaching Legal Design Law Student as User The Program for Legal Tech & Design Notes on the Design Process Online Mediation: Design Process notes FrontlineSMS:Legal Blog On

11/24/2013

Fwd.Us Immigration Hackathon: Immigration Visualization Project

I’ve just posted a project summary up for my team’s work at the FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon at the Program for Legal Tech & Design’s site. Come over & read about what we built, see our demo, and read about our future plans. And I uploaded my entire photo log of the event, from Day 1

11/19/2013

Making Immigration User-Friendly workshop report

My Program for Legal Tech & Design held its first Law By Design workshop this past weekend at Stanford’s d.school.  We challenged attendees to go from one-line ideas to full-blown prototypes of new immigration products.  The goal was to develop better design patterns, concept ideas, and possible products for supporting ordinary people through the immigration

11/11/2013

The Program for Legal Tech & Design

I’m excited to announce that Ron Dolin & I have started a new Program for Legal Tech & Design at Stanford.  We’re based out of Stanford Institute of Design (d.school) for now, which is where I’m doing my one-year fellowship to bring Law & Design together. Our goal is to push law forward with innovative

10/29/2013

Judgepedia & crowdsourcing court-user info

I just found out about Judgepedia, a site that collects information about courts and judges, in a shared wiki. Its primary user seems to be someone interested in how the judicial system in the US works, and how individual jurisdictions have established judicial systems. It’s a project out of the Lucy Burns Institute. Judgepedia aims

10/28/2013

Good Consumer Law Design: Finding & Hiring a Lawyer

I’ve been thinking a lot about Consumer Law Design — meaning, how do we build new products & experiences for lay people who want to get their legal tasks accomplished well. These are the subdomains of Consumer Law that I’ve drawn out — step by step in a linear process. How to figure out you

10/18/2013

Berkman Center Report on Access to Justice in courts

I just discovered a rich design document & user research study conducted by a team out of Harvard’s Berkman Center in 2010. It looks at how more access & usability can be built into current civil court processes. And one of its co-authors is Phil Malone, who has just joined Stanford Law School’s team, as

10/07/2013

State Court Redesigns

Ted Olson and David Boies, the legal team behind Prop 8, have been working with the ABA, worked with a task force on the Preservation of the Justice System. They gathered input from stakeholders around the country on how the court experience could be improved — at the same time as state budgets are cut

09/30/2013

Pocket DACA

Here is another current initiative for Access to Justice through design/tech: Pocket DACA. Pocket DACA is an app, released this summer for free for Android & IOS, to help people who came to the US as a child, who might be eligible for DACA.  It was produced by Pro Bono Net & Immigration Advocates Network.

09/29/2013

Access to Justice Tech: Concepts

I’ve been searching around for the current landscape of actual initiatives & concept designs for tech tools to provide more access to justice. I went back to a presentation, Assisted Legal Decisionmaking, by law professor Josh Blackman at Stanford last year. He showed some screenshots of legal products he’s been thinking of. The concept app

09/28/2013

Legal Barbershop

Another offline idea for Access to Justice (thanks to Briane for the mention!) — this time being piloted by attorney Donald Howard in New Britain, Connecticut. The Connecticut Tribune reports on how he has opened a barbershop inside of his legal office, as a hybrid-business to serve more people’s legal needs.  He cuts their hair

09/28/2013

SF Law Open + Buildable

The San Francisco city government launched SF Open Law this week — to make all of its laws open for people who code, build, and design to use. It’s a repository for hackers to make better legal apps & tools for the city.  And it’s a collaborative too, allowing people who have made things to

09/24/2013

Tech Tips for Legals

Here’s a short, unnarrated overview of legal tech tools from Legal Services NTAP that lawyers & others could use to organize their projects, do better research, work on the road, take notes, use visuals, create media, analyze data, and use all the tech they already have in better ways. 50 Tech Tips 2013 EJC from

08/20/2013

How Might We: Provide DIY Legal Diagnosis

For a paper I’ve been working on, here is a preliminary mind-map I’ve been sketching out. It’s a quick brainstorm of how DIY legal tools may be provided to non-experts. It considers what models might be breakthroughs, how technology might interact with the person, and what challenges might block their success. The map is a

07/12/2013

Citizenship Apps

Citizenshipworks is building online and mobile apps aimed at non-citizens in the US — trying to give them resources and tutorials to navigate their way through citizenship. They have checklists, expert system interviews, and tutorials to help the users along. Damian Thompson of the Knight Foundation, writes of the new app. I’m also proud to

06/10/2013

Consumer Immigration Law Brainstorm

Here are a big collection of my notes & brainstorms from a recent weekend, focused on how to bring Immigration self-management tools to non-citizens living in the U.S. There is a strong potential, to pioneer some new Consumer Law applications, that would provide foreigners in the US with support to figure out their own legal

05/14/2013

Legal Jacket concept

A quick sketch of a concept for wearable law… Of course fictional now, but only slightly tongue-in-cheek… Related posts: Concept designs for UNHCR redesigns Legal Health Checklist Concept Ideas for Human Rights Designs

04/03/2013

Legal Health Checklist

I am writing a paper on ways to bring good design to create new models of access to justice.  I have been scouting out some such threads, to see what might be worth developing further. In my browsing, I came across this pdf pamphlet from the State Bar of California.  It is an overarching list,

03/12/2013

Redesigning the Courthouse?

At Georgia Tech’s school of architecture, they are investigating the physical design of the courthouse experience. Related posts: Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs I need app feedback! NSA ‘inadvertantly’ reads huge numbers of US citizens’ emails Online Mediation: Design Process notes

03/11/2013

Juror’s User Experience, part 2

More wonderful insights into how citizens called to be jurors experience the court system in the UK — from the RED project, by the Design Council —read more, http://www.designcouncil.info/mt/RED/citizenship/. Related posts: Design Insights Re: Jurors Citizen as User, Design Research Touching the State What is User Experience Design? User experience design for law Judgepedia &

03/07/2013

Design Insights Re: Jurors

Great, rich, human insights into how citizens called to be jurors experience the court system in the UK — from the RED project, by the Design Council —read more, http://www.designcouncil.info/mt/RED/citizenship/. Related posts: Citizen as User, Design Research Juror’s User Experience, part 2 Touching the State Courthouse Design: Insights Building a Culture of Law By Design

03/07/2013

Citizen as User, Design Research

Great, rich user insights about Citizenship and people’s relationships with the government, from the Red – Touching the State project http://www.designcouncil.info/mt/RED/citizenship/   Related posts: Touching the State Design Insights Re: Jurors Juror’s User Experience, part 2 What is User Experience Design? Ravel Law, visual legal research Thai citizen in US sues hosting company Netfirms.com over

03/07/2013

Touching the State

RED was a UK initiative that was operational between 2004 and 2006.  It was set up by the Design Council in the UK, to tackle public policy, social, and economic issues through design-driven innovation.  Its themes included health, aging, energy, democracy, and — of interest to this project — Citizenship.  They summarize their initiative as

03/07/2013

FrontlineSMS:Legal Blog

FrontlineSMS:Legal Blog: A collection of great observations about how mobile tech is being used to strengthen governance & rule of law around the world. There are some projects around strengthening citizen’s access to law, the openness of resources, and connectivity of underprivileged people in the population.   Related posts: Radio as Governance Tool Code shorthand

03/07/2013

Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs

A USDOJ report on Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs:meaning, what pro bono & public service offerings the schools have. The report allows schools to present what offerings they have, but it is a more a spotlight on programs, and less a detailed or critical summary of what’s working & what’s not. Overall, it’s a

02/19/2013

Access to justice, the problem

A drawing I had made during the Law Without Walls conference, based on a great passing comment… Related posts: Mobile Dispute Resolution for Access to Justice in Afghanistan The Problem of Legal Tech & Access to Justice Drawing Ideas Open Law app in Canada Law Schools’ Access to Justice programs Mitchell Baker on Access &

02/16/2013

Online Mediation: Design Process notes

I am on a design team, working on how to redesign the small claims mediation & family mediation (that now would occur offline, in a court house, in a room with a mediator and the parties) into an online experience. My team interviewed a mediator who has expertise in these offline mediations — these are

02/15/2013

Law Kiosk in action

Back in 2004, the Legal Services Corporation sponsored a law kiosk for an “online legal service center” on Navajo territory in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.  Read an article from back when it was debuted.  It meant to deliver access to justice, specifically for consumer and tax law. “DNA Peoples Legal Services installed computer kiosks

01/11/2013

Online Dispute Resolution in British Columbia

Canada — in particular British Columbia — has been the leading light in using online tools for providing dispute resolution to citizens.  They have found most success in small property & zoning disputes, and also with consumer protection cases. They have done some empirical research and found that people in family law disputes actually DO

12/20/2012

Does the Internet improve young people’s legal access?

A blog post from Richard Zorza’s rich blog on Access to Justice discusses an issue I am currently working on — whether the Internet is a usable and effective resource for non-lawyers to get legal information and support. Some findings of particular interest: Non-lawyers use search pages to find legal information to diagnose their situation.

12/19/2012

New Generation of Tech for Access to Justice

A great article from Slate on Tech being used for Legal Aid & Access to Justice, with lots of specific examples of how SMS and other basic tech can give reminders, process updates, basic advice, and more lawyering to people who can’t afford lawyers. The concepts: Automated Call Back Systems from legal services to people

11/27/2012

Radio as Governance Tool

An article about how radio technologies are mashed up with SMS tech to allow community members to text into radio programs, to talk back and participate in discussions.  Instead of having to go through expensive voice calls, they can use SMS to send in messages or participate in surveys. FrontlineSMS: Giving Radio Listeners a Voice

11/09/2012

Assisted Legal Decision Making

Assisted Decision Making from Josh Blackman Here is the presentation from today’s Stanford Law lunch, with law professor Josh Blackman discussing his startup to rival Pacer in distributing case information in a more usable way, with better ways to see relations between firms, judges, cases, companies, etc. Assisted Decision Making from Josh Blackman He also

11/09/2012

Can Online Dispute Resolution reduce the justice gap?

LawTechCampLondon from tmcgn7 LawTechCampLondon from tmcgn7 A presentation from a member of the VirtualCourthouse.com team, on the current problem of Access to Justice, and looking at how online tools — particularly around online dispute resolution and diy legal tools for pro se individuals — could address it. Related posts: Online Dispute Resolution in British Columbia

11/07/2012

Against Alternative Dispute Resolution

Related posts: Mobile Dispute Resolution, not PC Dispute Resolution Online Dispute Resolution in British Columbia Can Online Dispute Resolution reduce the justice gap? Mobile phone Dispute Resolution Dispute Resolution in Refugee Camps Mobile Dispute Resolution for Access to Justice in Afghanistan

11/02/2012

What about a WebMD for law?

For my excellent class at Stanford Law School on the future of legal technology, I am proposing to build a WebMD for law. My central question is ‘how might we build tech that could help a lay person diagnose their own legal problems’? I am asking it because most legal technology currently is being built

10/25/2012

How can mobile tech be used to promote justice?

Sri Lankan tech researcher & TED fellow Sanjana Hattotuwa has laid out some of the basic capabilities that mobile phones in the field can be used in dispute resolution and rule of law. Data gathering Plotting the GIS coordinates of the disputed territory, including details of the location, resources and details of adjacent territory Details

10/25/2012

Mobile Dispute Resolution, not PC Dispute Resolution

A paper on “An Asian Perspective on Online Mediation” puts forward an agenda for making all the advances made in Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) transition to mobile devices.  ODR had been PC-based, but this isn’t relevant for the majority of the world, who do not have reliable access to PCs, but who are regular users

10/25/2012

Tech to Fight Rumors

A major problem in governance is the spread of misinformation and rumors. Sometimes these result from concerted campaigns by political actors, to manipulate politicians with rumors meant to make them suspicious or fearful about something.  Other times rumors are not driven by anyone, but snowball on their own.  Either way, flare-ups of rumors can wreak

10/24/2012

Mobile Dispute Resolution for Access to Justice in Afghanistan

The Internet Bar Organization has fielded a proposed design, the Internet Silk Road Initiative, that would use online and mobile tech to provide access to justice & dispute resolution capabilities to Afghanistan. The project’s website is down now, indicating that perhaps the proposal has been shelved right now. But its ambit is of interest: “The

03/14/2012

Using Tech to Improve Lineups

An article from Ben Paynter at Good Magazine about Gary Well’s work in the Austin Police Department to use a computer program to improve crime witnesses’ identification of suspects. an excerpt “It’s an experimental protocol designed by Gary Wells, the guru of eyewitness reliability—or rather, unreliability. The director of social sciences at the American Judicature Society’s Center for

02/07/2012

Virtual Live Charity Interventions

Sarkissian Mason, a digital innovation agency, worked with the non-profit Pathways to Housing, to make a Virtual Homeless interactive experience for people walking down the street in New York, to encourage donations + engagement. From the agency’s site: As originators of the Housing First model, the non-profit engaged SM to help spread awareness in NYC

10/31/2011

311 Local Governance Apps

Many cities are using “311 Apps” on mobile devices or on Facebook to let citizens report basic city problems — potholes, graffiti, etc — to their local representatives. They can supply the details, photos, and requests directly to the city official that should be responding to them. It also allows citizens a better way to