The National Center for State Courts has a working group of justice leaders who have released a December 2022 report “Just Horizons” — pointing to systemic vulnerabilities in the court system and opportunities for building a better future, where the institutions are strong, the public is served, and there is a healthy justice ecosystem.
There are 6 areas of Vulnerabilities & Opportunities laid out, where justice institutions can invest to strengthen their performance, impact, and infrastructure. These include a focus on the future, using data, private entity management, emergency preparedness, future-ready workforce, and user-centered design.
These areas all resonate with our work at the Legal Design Lab:
- A focus on the intentional design of civic systems: government institutions like courts should be looking to the future to see what kinds of services, relationships, infrastructure, and outcomes they want to be having. They should work with diverse stakeholders to set this future agenda, and scope out projects to reach this better future.
- Prioritizing the users of the government institutions, rather than just the institutions themselves: many times, when we talk about what government institutions like courts should be doing, the focus is on internal metrics — efficiency, cases closed, calendaring, staffing, and budget. These are important factors, but they must be balanced out with metrics that reflect the interests of the people the institutions are meant to help and serve.
- Participation of diverse stakeholders in providing feedback about the status quo, finding and scoping new solutions, and evaluating new revisions to ensure they are serving the audiences as intended.