Recent Posts on Justice Innovation

Welcome to the Legal Design Lab’s blog on justice innovation.

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

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

AI & Justice Workers

At the Arizona State University/American Bar Foundation conference on the Future of Justice Work, Margaret Hagan spoke on if and how generative AI might be part of new service and business models to serve people with legal problems. Many in the audience are already developing new staffing & service models, that combine traditional lawyer-provided services…

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User Persona Template

Is your team working on a legal innovation project, using a human-centered design approach? Then you are likely focused on different kinds of ‘users’, ‘stakeholders’, or ‘audience members’ as you plan out your innovation. Our Legal Design Lab team has a free Canva template to make your own user personas easily. This Canva template gives…

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Eviction diversion design workshop

Last week, Margaret Hagan traveled to Houston Texas for the National Center for State Court convening of Eviction Diversion Initiative facilitators. She ran a half day workshop on how to use human centered design to improve the program design, paperwork, and Service delivery of eviction diversion help at housing courts around the country. This Design…

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User Research Workshop on AI & A2J

In December 2023, our lab hosted a half-day workshop on AI for Legal Help. Our policy lab class of law students, master students, and undergraduates presented their user research findings from their September through December research. Our guests, including those from technology companies, universities, state bars, legal aid groups, community-based organizations, and advocacy/think takes, all…

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Filing Fairness Toolkit

The Stanford Legal Design Lab & the Rhode Center on the Legal Profession have just released the Filing Fairness Toolkit. The toolkit covers 4 areas, with diagnostics, maturity models, and actionable guidance for: improving Filing Technology Infrastructure building a healthy Filing Partner Ecosystem establishing good Technology Governance refining Forms & Filing Processes This Toolkit is…

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Report on litigants’ outcomes on Zoom court hearings

The Indiana University team, led by professor Victor Quintanilla, has released the report Accessing Justice with Zoom: Experiences and Outcomes in Online Civil Courts. The team had set up a novel system to recruit court users to give feedback about their experience attending court in-person or remotely, combining that with administrative data and observational data…

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Paths Toward Access to Justice at Scale presentation

In October 2023, Margaret Hagan presented at the International Access to Justice Forum, on “Paths toward Access to Justice at Scale”. The presentation covered the preliminary results of stakeholder interviews she is conducting with justice professionals across the US about how best to scale one-off innovations and new ideas for improvements, to become more sustainable…

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AI Platforms & Privacy Protection through Legal Design

How can regulators, researchers, and tech companies proactively protect people’s rights & privacy, even as AI becomes more ubiquitous so quickly? by Margaret Hagan, originally published at Legal Design & Innovation This past week, I had the privilege of attending the State of Privacy event in Rome, with policy, technical, and research leaders from Italy and Europe….

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Frontline Justice launch

A new initiative, Frontline Justice, has just been launched to build a new set of justice workers who can serve people with legal needs & close the justice gap. This new group is planning to grow a workforce of justice workers, reform policies and regulations around who can provide legal help, and engage communities in…

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Court focus on user-centered experience & inclusive design

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…

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Court text messages scripts

As more courts use text messages to improve litigants’ access to justice, many wonder exactly how to set up texting. What are the words, schedule, and flow of text messages for a court to use? From our experience with working with criminal, traffic, housing, and other civil courts in doing text message projects, we have…

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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 making a difference or not. Did they help people who were seeking guidance…

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The State of Eviction Prevention Efforts

Lessons Learned from the Eviction Prevention Learning Lab cohort As eviction rates go back up following the court shutdowns and emergency moratoria during the pandemic, communities are struggling with the question: how can we prevent evictions? How can we help people stay in their homes, avoid lawsuits to force them out of their houses or…

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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 working on modernizing Unemployment Insurance. See their examples & guidance about how to…

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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. Equitable access to the system, with technology enhancing (and not diminishing) opportunities to…

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An International R&D Community for Better Justice Innovations

Margaret Hagan, Aug 16, 2022 Building a network that’s researching, designing, and evaluating what works to increase access to justice Earlier this summer I was lucky to spend a Saturday in conversation with Professor Monica Palmirani & her research group CIRSFID at the University of Bologna. It was a pleasant afternoon talking about projects & giving feedback on early-stage…

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How do you design a user-friendly court form?

Margaret Hagan, Jun 29, 2022 (Even if we should be moving away from forms altogether…) I am thinking a lot about forms these days! At the Stanford Filing Fairness Project, our team is working on a near future in which PDF forms no longer are key to people’s access to the court system. In that vision,…

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Making Good Legal Design the Law

Margaret Hagan, Jan 13, 2022 We have been talking and working on the importance of the justice system’s user experience — as have many others in other public interest sectors. We have been talking and working on the importance of the justice system’s user experience — as have many others in other public interest sectors….

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Human-Centered Computable Contracts

Margaret Hagan, Dec 16, 2021 In Winter Quarter, our Lab Team is working with the Stanford Law CodeX team, to co-teach a new class at Stanford Law School. It is a hands-on, project-based class, about how to make insurance contracts more accessible, intelligent, and human centered. It builds on our past classes on user-friendly privacy…

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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 with eviction, their experiences with seeking out help, and their ideas for change.We…

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Court Observation Hub

Nóra Al Haider, Oct 21, 2021 “Please wait for the host to start this meeting” Nowadays, in many jurisdictions, litigants can opt to use Zoom to access their hearing. This is one of the many effects that the pandemic had on the legal system. Webex, Teams and Zoom are starting to feel like a regular…

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How do we assess whether a pilot increases Access to Justice?

Rachel Wang, Oct 12, 2021 A spotlight on Hugh McDonald’s law review piece “Assessing A2J” Hugh McDonald published Assessing Access to Justice: How Much ‘Legal’ Do People Need and How Can We Know? in the UC Irvine Law Review earlier this year.The article helps us operationalize two terms that we use in legal design & policymaking: access to…

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An Equity Lens on Eviction Prevention

Housing Justice Work that gets to structural inequalities The Stanford Legal Design Lab has been collaborating with the National League of Cities to run a 30-city cohort, the Eviction Prevention Learning Lab. We run regular meetings, technical assistance sprints, and peer-learning to spread best practices on eviction prevention. And every quarter we have a big meeting on…

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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 productive, rapid-brainstorming session. Here’s a quick reminder of 5 “tenets” behind the design…

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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 can be useful to have a one-page hand-off for a policy partner to…

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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 courts, to plan out new ways to support people who have received eviction…

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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 rights, their options, and to go to court to fight eviction. In the…

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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 class from our guest speakers and our own work. The Public Policy Lab…

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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 of our guests was Verena Kontschieder, a visiting research student at the Center for Design Research….

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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 consuming. #B4 Small claims is an online dispute resolution app that will help…

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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 to navigate the small claims court process. This app translates documents, keeps them…

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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 mixture of in-person adventures and on-the-phone characters, challenges, and rewards. Their description: Inspired…

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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 created a customized mapping system to help patients or visitors find their way…

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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 creation of Docubot™, a legal document generating artificial intelligence. In conjunction with some…

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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 the monitors that show flight times and other important information.

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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 an Interpreters Corps. T.A.P CAIR-Chicago’s Traveler’s Assistance Project, a first of its kind nationally,…

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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 ioS) + a website. It is put out by the assembly of Rio…

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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 had the students make some more progress along the Journey of Prototypes. The…

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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 into the app Figure out what the document says, in jargon-free language. It…

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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 to present their findings, we asked them to think them as highlight reels of…

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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 professionals have an obligation to be neutral, but they also must serve these…

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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 to use court child care, but couldn’t because of the age/potty-training requirements People…

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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 a different moment. We are going to use these design briefs to frame…

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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 knowledge and procedures. Namati intends them as a frontline that can be in…

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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 also a “Homeless Court” to allow people to resolve outstanding warrants if they…

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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, with volunteer interpreters. They provide legal info and referrals to people who need…

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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 be smart when navigating them. Street Law UGA conducts community outreach geared primarily…

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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 pilot clinic at Little Village Lawndale High School during the 2009-2010 school year….

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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 key commodity in which their help is communicated — and what they can…

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