Hi! Welcome to the Legal Design Lab’s blog on our justice innovation work.

We’ll be posting up blogs from our classes, projects, and pilots here.

Also check out our Legal Design & Innovation publication on Medium.

  • Measuring impact of legal help websites
    At the LSC ITC conference 2023, the legal help website People’s Law School in British Columbia, Canada shared their strategy to measure what works on their website. They were motivated by knowing ‘What works?” They want to know if the website is … Read More
  • How the justice system can learn from unemployment insurance
    The federal government is newly focused on Customer Experience (CX). That has meant that their teams are creating better websites, tools, and forms that can help people get their business with agencies done more easily. The Department of Labor has a team … Read More
  • Benchmark principles for A2J Tech
    The State Courts in Washington established a set of guiding technology principles for the development and release of new technologies in the justice system. They are benchmarks that teams can use to evaluate their new idea, pilot, or even existing program with. … Read More
  • People’s experiences with eviction prevention
    From a team in the Justice By Design: Eviction Class, 2022. I: Overview of Activities  Our policy lab interviewed sixteen tenants, navigators, and landlords across the country, learning from their experiences and hearing their ideas. We asked general questions about their experiences … Read More
  • Brainstorming new Language Access self help ideas
    Brainstorming Potential Solutions in the Design for Justice Class: Language Access (Week 3) By Sahil Chopra Having experienced the court first hand, we returned to the classroom to revisit the tenets of Design Thinking and coalesce our thoughts, before engaging in a … Read More
  • Observing a county court for language access
    Initial Observations at the Santa Clara Family Justice Center (Week 2) By Sahil Chopra During our second week of the course, we paid our first visit to the Santa Clara Family Justice Center in order to observe, explore, and immerse ourselves in … Read More
  • A Design Prototype for Policy canvas
    For our Design for Justice: Language Access class, our teaching team made a canvas to help a design team craft a forward plan for the projects they have been working on to advance language access in the courts through technology. The canvas … Read More
  • Identifying A Single Prototype for language access improvement
    By Sahil Chopra (Part of a series of posts documenting the Design for Justice: Language Access class) Entering home stretch of the Autumn quarter, we spent today’s class first synthesizing our findings and working on our final pitch to the California Judicial … Read More
  • Design for Justice: Language Access — an introduction in week 1
    by Sahil Chopra Language is the medium by which we interact with culture, express our ideas, and maintain our rights. Without “language access”, i.e. the ability to convey one’s thoughts effectively and understand others correctly, one is disempowered altogether. At a societal … Read More
  • How graphic design helps us navigate buildings
    This 99 Design article by Alex Bigman gives a photo tour of wayfinding designs from hospitals, airports, and other government buildings. If it weren’t for graphic design, you’d have a lot more trouble finding the restroom. Office buildings, museums and libraries would … Read More
  • Access to Justice for People Who Do Not Speak English
    This article by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard of Indiana describes what justice issues arise out of language access problems in state courts.
  • The evolution of an eviction self-help website
    by Margaret Hagan, also published at Legal Design and Innovation Along with Daniel Bernal, I’ve been teaching a Stanford d.school pop-up class, Design for Justice: Eviction. We’ve been working with a team of 10 students and a network of experts, legal aid groups, and … Read More
  • Eviction design class
    In late April 2018, Daniel Bernal and Margaret Hagan taught the first part of the d.school pop-up Design For Justice: Eviction. The class focused on how we might better empower people who have received eviction notices (specifically, in Arizona) to know their … Read More
  • Talking with the Public Policy Lab about design and government innovation
    This quarter, I’m co-teaching a class, Community-Led System Design with Janet Martinez at Stanford Law School/d.school. We are bringing various innovators who are doing human-centered design work in government and legal systems. We, and our students, will be documenting what we learn during this … Read More
  • The Rise of Design in Policymaking: In conversation with Verena Kontschieder
    By Ayushi Vig, This was originally posted in our Medium publication Legal Design and Innovation In Community-Led System Design, a Stanford Law School/d.school course this quarter, we are speaking with people working on systems- and policy-design projects, from a human-centered design perspective. One … Read More
  • TSA Feedback service design at Dulles Airport
    More analogous learning from airports, this time from Dulles — and all their feedback prompts and props right around the security experience. These are all posted around the TSA, for people who have just gone through their pre-flight screening, to get feedback … Read More
  • Service Help Centers in airports, based in JFK Delta airport terminal
    I have been scouting out service design inspirations, particularly from airports, that courts could use. This one is from JFK airport, in the Delta terminal. I was very impressed with their service design. They had taken over an entire gate with a … Read More
  • Before Small Claims Court prep app
    A team from Justice Design at Osgoode Law’s Winkler Institute developed a prototype of an app that could prep people for small claims court, and take care of issues directly. Going to small claims court can be nerve racking, costly and time … Read More
  • Law Speak: language access app for small claims
    Osgoode Law School’s Justice Design program created a prototype for Law Speak, a tool for people going through the small claims process who are not fluent in the dominant language. LawSpeak empowers those who may not speak English as a primary language … Read More
  • Legal Go augmented reality legal ed game
    A team from the Winkler Institute’s Justice Design 2016 class created a game Legal Go, inspired by Pokemon Go, but for learning law. It’s a way to train lay people on what the legal system is and how it works, through a … Read More
  • Trends in Courthouse Design : a profile of new space designs
    The National Center for State Courts has a 2004 article from Don Hardenbergh, president of Courtworks, on Trends in Courthouse Design :: Courthouse Facilities. In the article, Hardenbergh profiles the move to use the space of courts to make the judicial system … Read More
  • East Bay Stand Down: coordinated services for at-risk veterans
    East Bay Stand Down is a project offered in California in which at-risk and homeless military veterans can access all kinds of service help over four days. It includes medical and dental care, housing, driver’s licenses, court services, hygiene, and more.
  • Houston.ai access AI
    Legal Server has a project Houston.AI, a new set of tools that allows for smarter intake of people, finding of their issues, and referring them to the right support. What? Houston.AI is a web-based platform designed to help non-profit legal aid agencies … Read More
  • Pro Bono matching websites
    Florida Pro Bono Matters is a website that allows for matching volunteer lawyers with cases. It allows for legal aid groups to easily post cases from their case management system, to then be easily found, filtered, adn signed up for by lawyers.
  • Robot Lawyer expert chat bot
    The Robot Lawyeris a chatbot made to let people get legal options and screening — and even fill in documents by chatting through a messenger interface on a website. It has been applied to traffic tickets, refugee asylum applications, and homeless benefits.
  • Online training for pro bono work
    The Pro Bono Training Institute in LA offers online training modules to prep lawyer volunteers to do good work as they volunteer to provide legal help. They developed these modules with OneJustice, with funding from the LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund.
  • Hospital map app
    An Ohio hospital has created an internal navigation system through a mapping app. It lets anyone find their doctor or destination by putting it into the app, and getting step by step directions about where to go. Mercy Health’s Jewish Hospital has … Read More
  • User journey through Housing Court
    In our classes, we map out different users’ journeys through the court. This is one of the Northeastern University student teams’ map, that abstracts different users’ journey through housing court in Boston.
  • Wayfinding signs with language access from hospitals
    These were sent from a Kaiser Health facility in California as examples that a court could possibly follow.
  • DocuBot for filling in forms through SMS
    DocuBot is a tool to fill in legal documents and other forms through an SMS or other chatbot-like experience. The bot asks questions to fill in the form. Here is more information from its creator, 1Law. 1LAW is proud to announce the … Read More
  • Final report from Prototyping Access to Justice: 7 prototypes to make courts more user-friendly
    Last Friday was the final class in the Stanford Law School/d.school class Prototyping Access to Justice. Kursat Ozenc and I were teaching the course as a practical, service design effort. The big question guiding the work: if hundreds of thousands of Californians … Read More
  • Public feedback report displays in courts
    I took a photograph of this display in London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. It is a very public display of the customer feedback for the airport. It has the results of surveys for different factors of the airport experience, displayed right on … Read More
  • Drawing of a Housing Court waiting room
    A sketch from my notebook, while I was observing a waiting room in a Court Service center in Boston, for people who were waiting for help with housing cases.
  • Redesigning Summons Forms to be clearer and more supportive
    What should a paper-based warning or order look like, to make it actionable and clear for people? Ideas42 worked with the New York City government to create new designs of the Summons document that people get for criminal court cases. Read more about … Read More
  • CAIR Chicago’s Travelers Assistance Program
    CAIR Chicago has sponsored a new initiative to mobilize legal help and interpreters (as well as knowledge) for people at risk of civil rights violation or immigration problems. Their Travelers Assistance Project was launched to give travelers alerts, assemble an Attorney Corps, and … Read More
  • Dulles Justice Coalition: rapid response pro bono network
    Dulles Justice Coalition is a grassroots organization in the DC area, in which lawyers have come together to provide help to immigrants. Specifically, it arose after the January Executive Order that upset the travel plans and border-crossings of refugees and people from Muslim-majority … Read More
  • Designing a more user-friendly legal system: notes from the field
    Today we held our Prototyping Access to Justice class on-site at San Mateo County court house, specifically in and around the Self-Help Center and Family Law Facilitator. The six student teams are all at the point where they have working prototypes that … Read More
  • Know Your Rights App, Carteirada do Bem
    One of my Brazilian students in my Prototyping Access to Justice class alerted me to a very cool app in Brazil, all about empowering people about their legal rights. It’s called Carteirada do Bem. It’s a native app (on Android) and (on … Read More
  • The Prototype Journey, from post it to wizard of oz
    In our Prototyping Access to Justice class, Kursat Ozenc and I are leading student teams to get quickly from speculating about how the courts could be improved to implementing new concepts. In our class today, in week 3 of the course, we … Read More
  • Legal Document Responder App
    Could we build an application that would let a person, who receives a legal document or government document in the mail to: Scan it in, either through a mobile-photo-scanner, or a QR code on the document that makes it easy to capture … Read More
  • Summary of Spring 2016 class findings on Self Help Centers
    In Spring 2016, Margaret Hagan and Janet Martinez taught a course at Stanford Law School, through the Policy Lab program, called Prototyping Access to Justice: Designing New Legal Services for Self-Help (see the official class description on Stanford Law’s site here). In … Read More
  • Creative research reels
    Court user experience can be heavy sometimes due to the entangled nature of court use cases and structures. This past week, our course participants took that challenge and conducted research in the field with court employees, and end users. When they were preparing … Read More
  • Common Problems of people in the civil legal system
    Talking to the experts in the court system, we heard what some of the most wicked, common problems are for people — the common places that they fail in getting to a good resolution. It’s very hard to finish a divorce case. … Read More
  • Self Help Center essential research
    In our interviews with experts and court professionals, we identified some of the core challenges and needs. Here are some of the highlights: More and more people are coming to the civil court system without a lawyer Judges, clerks, and other court … Read More
  • User situations in Self Help Centers
    As we have been researching the status quo situation of the Self Help Centers, we’ve identified some common types of users. They are as follows. People with their kids, stressed and overwhelmed. They either can’t get child care, or brought them hoping … Read More
  • Our big guiding design briefs
    After our first two classes, we began to identify some of the big questions that characterize how the court needs to improve. We decided to segment based on where the person is in their journey through the system. Each brief focuses on … Read More
  • “Magic” cards: essential info on a business card
    Can we boil down all of the most essential things to know for a legal issue onto a business card? We can list out What Not To Do, What to Say, What to Do, What to Expect. We could perhaps even diagram … Read More
  • Grassroots Legal Advocates from Namati
    Namati has a program called Grassroots Legal Advocates. It has paralegals trained in the basics of local law, as well as complementary skills like community organizing, training, advocacy, and strategic mediation. The paralegals and advocates can help empower local communities with legal … Read More
  • Project Homeless Connect in Colorado
    Project Homeless Connect, run by the Colorado Lawyers Committee brings together coordinated services on a single day for homeless individuals. Legal volunteers help people connect to legal assistance, as well as public benefits, medical care, housing, employment, and other needed services. There is … Read More
  • Legal Nights in Colorado
    The Colorado Lawyers Committee has assembled a list of community clinics that are around the state, to get legal resources to people. There are “Legal Nights” in Denver and Greeley. At these nights, lawyers come to resource centers and churches in the community, … Read More
  • Street Law for ‘Know Your Rights’ training from Univ. of Georgia
    University of Georgia has a Street Law program. It holds sessions to train people, especially young people, on legal topics. Much of their work is focused on how young people can understand the criminal justice system and the social services system, to … Read More
  • Lawyer in Library program in Providence
    The Providence Public Library hosts lawyers who will answer questions for free. It’s called “Lawyers in the Library.” No appointments are needed, and the series is free. It’s run with a Presentation from a lawyer, and then an opportunity with people to speak … Read More
  • Legal Clinics in High Schools, from Chicago Law & Education Foundation
    The Chicago Law & Education Foundation  has a high school law clinic that works on providing services, particularly around immigration law, to students in need. The Chicago Law and Education Foundation was started in 2010 by teacher/attorney Dennis Kass. CLEF launched a … Read More
  • Making the court Self Help Center more friendly and human
    Could we remake the Self Help Center to be more colorful, friendly, and humanized? This could be with more art on the wall, with more aesthetically and purposefully structured walls of resources. It could also have things for toddlers and other kids … Read More
  • Starter Kit packets for legal processes
    At Self Help Centers, we observed that people got a lot of paper, but didn’t know exactly what to do with all of them. The idea of a Resource Guide is that there would be a streamlined collection of resources, with forms, … Read More
  • Big Maps of legal service providers, on the wall and in handouts
    What is it? Have standardized maps of all the court’s floors and rooms, as well as adjacent buildings. These should use the color scheme to direct people on a certain pathway to the right location. It should have plentiful white space, so … Read More
  • Numbering Line System for self help services
    How can we make lines in courts less painful? One idea is to have a numbering system. People can take a number and hang out til their number is called — instead of waiting in line and getting exhausted and frustrated. The … Read More
  • Better Cover Sheets on Forms
    We identified that Form Packets are a central ‘thing’ in the Court System. People come to court for help, and the Clerks and Self Help Centers deliver them help through a large selection of paperwork. These papers, most especially forms, are the … Read More
  • Giant Visual Storyboards in legal buildings (and elsewhere)
    Our proposal is for courts to make huge posters to display on the walls, that lay out the steps of a legal process. They can be replicated on handouts and brochures. These giant maps would show an illustrated way that a person … Read More
  • Design Review Sheet for the legal system
    We use this one-page Evaluation sheet to review a service, product, or idea. It prioritizes the user’s point of view — to make sure that the thing you’re reviewing has a good user experience. It can be used for proposals or existing … Read More
  • Signs that clarify relationship between Advocates and People
    One of the needs we uncovered at the Self Help Centers in courts was to make it clear to people that they couldn’t expect full legal representation. The courts wanted to make sure they didn’t expect full confidentiality or an ongoing relationship. … Read More
  • Welcome to Court! colored, problem-oriented signs
    What is it? Posters and other large-scale signage that can be placed physically throughout and around the court building, and on any web- or mobile-based court technology. It would reach out to people considering using the court by framing the problem in … Read More
  • Strategy Prep for “tough conversations”
    Public legal education groups, including the Justice Education Society, in British Columbia have created online guides to help a person have difficult conversations. They are particularly meant to resolve disputes before they become more problematic. These give a small training in the … Read More
  • Neighborhood Legal Clinics in King County
    King County provides a  Neighborhood Legal Clinics program to give free, limited legal help to people in Washington State. There are specialty clinics, like around family, debt, elder law, civil rights, etc. They don’t offer help on criminal issues. The purpose of the … Read More
  • Free Legal Aid in Iowa Libraries
    In Iowa, there are two programs that sponsor Free Legal Aid for low-income residents at libraries. The Iowa State Bar Public Service Project and the Iowa Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyers Project offer statewide services through the library. People can come to the … Read More
  • Customizable Process Map
      What is it? Have a standardized paper map of the steps in a legal process laid out, with tasks, hand-offs, and roles. This map can then be marked-up and customized by the user and by lawyers and court staff, to help … Read More
  • Court Resource Easel Board
      What is it? It is a standing easel, about five feet high, with clips to attach a series of booklets. It would be more attractive than a standard “Wall of Handouts”, and it would have more structured categories and flows of … Read More
  • Happy/Not Happy card
    A model for feedback is the Happy/Not Happy card, a simple folded card that gives the user two sets of things to do to give feedback. It comes from a headphone company, Anker. They include this card with their product, to give … Read More
  • Lawyer in the Library + Clinics
    The San Mateo County Law Library has a Lawyer in the Library Program. Once a month, the Redwood City-based library has a live lawyer present for 20 minute free consultations. You must sign up before hand. The San Mateo County Law Library participates in … Read More
  • Story-examples to show human process
    What if courts documented real-life stories of people who went through various processes, and how they did so. This could be through pictures and words, or through interactive media or videos. It would give the user a sense of how others have … Read More
  • CourtMD self-audit for courts
    Court MD is a project from the National Center for State Courts that lets court admins run an audit of their own organization, to figure out what’s going wrong and where they should focus resources. Here’s the description from NCSC: …start with … Read More
  • BillFixers: advocates who negotiate for you
    BillFixers is a service that lets you have someone else deal with your bills, to figure out how to negotiate them down. Our expert negotiators are ready to lower your bills up to 35%! Get started by signing up with BillFixers today! … Read More
  • AirHelp: scan and claim for airline compensation
    AirHelp scouts your flight details to see if you can make a claim for compensation. You can enter your flight details with airports and dates if your flight has been cancelled or overbooked. Then you can check your eligibility to see if … Read More
  • Tenants in Action: app to report housing violations
    Tenants in Action is an app for tenants in LA to document and report issues they have with housing problems. They can use the app to note what problems they’re experiencing, match that to codes in the government-speak, and then register a … Read More
  • Paribus: scraping your data to find claims
    Paribus is a tool that finds you ways to get reimbursed in part from companies you’ve bought products from. You give them access to your emails where you get receipts, and then it looks for opportunities for you to get money back … Read More
  • Heat Seek: documenting violations with sensors
    Can we use technology to seek out problems that have legal dimensions, that people aren’t aware of? Heat Seek is a technology-based legal tool to help people see if heating code violations have occurred. It uses sensor technology to watch whether and … Read More
  • SquaredAway housing dispute resolution system
    SquaredAway is a web-app that promotes healthy relations between landlords and tenants — helping resolve and prevent housing disputes. It does so by providing a communications platform for landlords and tenants, as well as wikis, checklists, and other guides. It lets Chicago … Read More
  • JustFix app for tenants to gather evidence, protect their rights
    JustFix is an app that is built for NYC tenants to understand their housing rights, gather documentation that could be used to support their legal claims, and to share their case file with advocates. JustFix.nyc adds another tactic to the fight for … Read More
  • Navigation maps for all legal services in a jurisdiction
    This concept proposal is to create a single map and wayfinding system for all the different types of legal services, across all kinds of different providers, in a jurisdiction. It can be a geographic map, as well as organizational and process map. … Read More
  • Due Processr: evaluate eligibility for indigency status
    The web-app Due Processr takes the user through an interactive questionnaire that helps the person to determine if they are eligible for the qualification of ‘Indigency’ in Massachusetts. The app breaks apart the eligibility factors into distinct questions, and in one page … Read More
  • Legal screeners and intake for medical providers
    Mobile apps aimed at non-legal service providers help them screen for legal problems for their clients. For example there is an app specifically designed for use in medical-legal partnerships, in which users have come to a medical facility to deal with a … Read More
  • Legal Health Checkup concept sketch
    An increasingly popular concept for access innovations is the Legal Health Checkup, that would serve as an initial outreach to laypeople. It would help them understand what issues they are currently dealing with that might have legal recourse — and then would … Read More
  • Legal Health Check-ups online screener, from CLEO in Ontario
    There is a lot of interest in developing new, and new modes of, legal health checkups. There are some such checkups currently in action — like this one from Ontario, which is delivered through a web survey. This one, created by Halton … Read More
  • Mobile legal help apps
    Mobile legal help apps are becoming increasingly common. In these apps, often developed as standalone applications for Android or iOS systems, the user gets a wide range of legal help information specifically geared for self-represented litigants all on their phone. The advantage … Read More
  • Document assembly tools to automatically create forms
    There are many HotDocs and A2J document assembly projects that have been funded by TIG that have replication potential. Listed below is a brief synopsis of a couple of those projects. From South Central Michigan: automated forms completion. Legal Services of South Central Michigan developed information … Read More
  • Online Intake systems
    Online intake is an always-on service, that lets anyone with an internet connection enter their information and find what services they might qualify for. The advantage of an online intake system is that it prevents the need for a person from having … Read More
  • I-CAN! Legal – Get help filling out court forms
    I-CAN! Legal is a software tool to help laypeople prepare court forms through a more interactive and user-friendly online questionnaire. I-CAN! Legal helps people prepare their court forms using an easy online questionnaire. I-CAN! provides step-by-step instructions for how to file the … Read More
  • Game-based simulation of court 
    Source: A team at Northeastern Law has been building a simulation game to help self-represented litigants prepare for their court appearance. The sim­u­la­tion game is par­tic­u­larly tar­geted to the growing number of people who cannot afford legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion and thus rep­re­sent them­selves … Read More
  • Secure video uploads to document rights violations
    This concept is for an online service that would allow for secure uploads from places that are under surveillance or without great digital freedoms. The service would allow them to anonymously, securely upload videos and photos that document human rights abuses and … Read More
  • THE BUOY PROJECT – Tech For Justice
    The winner of the New Mexico Tech for Justice hackathon was THE BUOY PROJECT . Here is the description of the project — an emergency services line for a community — from the site. Buoy is a private, enhanced 9-1-1 for your website … Read More
  • Legal Rapid Prototyping Core team
    What if we had on-site teams that could quickly spot problems, create an intervention, test it, and improve on it — all in one day or less, to make a great new design that actually works and is meaningful to the stakeholders … Read More
  • Street Law cartoon outreach
    Could we make gripping cartoon outreach posters — with basic primers on key points of law and legal services, that apply to people who are likely to be hanging out in a certain physical space? This idea came up for Trafficking, in … Read More
  • Legal Advocate SMS
    A mobile-first solution, that would let any lay person connect to basic legal knowledge and education through virtually free SMS back-and-forths. It could be lessons taught in small bite-size chunks and stories, through a series of texts. It could be daily reminders … Read More
  • “Human Law” drop-in problem-solving centers
    What if there were physical locations in communities, in which people with life problems could drop in and get help? There would be lawyers there, but there could also be medical, mental health, social service, immigration, and all kinds of other specialists. … Read More
  • Lawyer transparency with stats cards
    If one of laypeople’s main concerns about using the legal system is the lack of transparency around hiring a lawyer (how much do they cost? are they any good? will they be the right fit for me?) — then how can we … Read More
  • Triage Diagnostic Tool to Assess Potential for Self-Representation in New Mexico
    Source: New Mexico – Diagnostic Tool to Assess Potential for Self-Representation The New Mexico Access to Justice Commission used an ATJ Innovation Grant to develop a diagnostic tool to assess factors that might help or hinder a particular individual in self-representation, as … Read More
  • Rechtwijzer guide through a legal process
    Rechtwijzer is a Dutch platform to help laypeople through the start of a legal process — from problem to legal process. Probleem of conflict? Vul stap voor stap Rechtwijzer in. U krijgt advies over wat u in uw situatie kunt doen en … Read More
  • Court Navigator Program to help people through court
    NYC Housing Court – Resolution Assistance Program (RAP) offers the Court Navigator Program: The Court Navigator Program was launched in February 2014 to support and assist unrepresented litigants – people who do not have an attorney – during their court appearances in … Read More
  • Document Assembly Software for uncontested divorces
    Source: Arkansas – Document Assembly Software The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission used an ATJ Innovation Grant to develop a pro se document assembly form for uncontested divorce with children. The software will be used in a court-house based pilot project in … Read More
  • Online user question-and-answers from pro bono attorneys
    The Alabama Access to Justice Commission used an ABA Expansion Grant to implement the web-based pro bono program Online Tennessee Justice, which allows pro bono attorneys to answer questions submitted by clients through a website.  In Alabama the website has been launched as Alabama Legal Answers. … Read More
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