My (sketched) vision of the future of accessible legal services

How can we help people on-ramp into the legal system in much easier & accessible ways? This is the solution that’s been growing in my mind (but still obviously a little rough) over the last few months.

Accessible Legal Services

We need to invest in several layers at once:

1) The especially hard one: Building a central repository (or a smart, organized network) of all the information about legal services that people need when they are figuring out what legal help they need & how they can get it. This includes: basic legal info about options and procedures, eligibility info about what they qualify for, service options and hand-offs to people/orgs who can help them, know your rights materials that help them spot legal issues and respond to them quickly.

2) The more designerly one: Building better tools, interfaces, and user-facing services that help people access information from this central repository in a clean, just-in-time, quick way. These are the apps, websites, kiosks, in-person meetings, SMS channels that let a person find the right help for them right when they need it.

3) The flashier one: Building a single, memorable brand that lets a person know that the legal help they’re accessing is trustworthy, up-to-date, and right for them, and that is sticky enough that they can remember it if they’re in an emergency or just far away from lawyers.

A lot to do, I know — but an exciting one, and something that is not impossible. I have been experimenting in this second camp over the past few years — with websites & SMS channels that would let people find and access content in user-friendly ways. But I keep coming back to camp #1 & #3. We need all three in order to build a truly accessible & 21st century system of legal services.

I’m excited to be working with Open Referral & others on starting to think about how #1 is achievable, at least in a small Bay Area pilot.

Are you interested in any of these 3 undertakings? Let me know!