What are people’s needs in the legal system?

As our Lab does workshops, classes, and testing with people in the civil justice system, we are compiling the stories, needs, requirements, and requests for innovation that we hear. They are all anonymized– if names are used, they are all fictional and identifying details have been removed or fictionalized.

  • US national 2017 Justice Gap study. Legal Services Corporation. “The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans.” Washington DC, 2017. Find the LSC study and datasets here.
  • US national 2014 legal needs study. Sandefur, Rebecca L. “Accessing Justice in the Contemporary USA: Findings from the Community Needs and Services Study.” SSRN, 2014. Find Sandefur’s study here.
  • US national 1994 legal needs study.  American Bar Association. “Legal Needs and Civil Justice: A Survey of Americans,” 1994. See the study here.
  • California 2019 Legal Needs study. The State Bar of California. “2019 California Justice Gap Study,” 2019. https://www.lsc.gov/media-center/publications/2017-justice-gap-report. Find the California study here.
  • Washington DC 2019 Legal Needs Study. D.C. Access to Justice Commission. “Delivering Justice: Addressing Civil Legal Needs in the District of Columbia.” Washington, DC, 2019. https://www.dcaccesstojustice.org/reports.html. Find the DC study here.
  • Indiana 2019 Legal Needs Study + Legal Aid Scan. Quintanilla, Victor D., and Rachel Thelin. “Indiana Civil Legal Needs Study and Legal Aid System Scan,” 2019. Find the Indiana Civil Legal Needs Study here.
  • Nevada 2018 Legal Needs Study. Smith, Ken Kelly, and M A Thayer. “Nevada Legal Needs and Economic Impact Study,” October 31, 2018. Find the 2018 Nevada study here.
  • Oregon 2018 Legal Needs Study. Oregon State Bar, The Lawyer’s Campaign for Equal Justice, Oregon Law Foundation, Oregon Law Center, Judicial Department of Oregon, and Legal Aid Services of Oregon. “Barriers to Justice: A 2018 Study Measuring the Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Oregonians,” 2018. Find the 2018 Oregon study here.

Eviction User Research

In our work on the eviction system, we have identified common scenarios, and also documented particular user stories, personas, and metaphors/insights about the eviction system.

In our research in the Bay Area, these were the main themes we were hearing about why people were experiencing eviction problems as tenants.  These categories represent some of the most common issues for tenants in 2019-2020.


Metaphors for the Eviction Experience

We asked the tenants and landlords we interviewed to make analogies and metaphors for their experience, so we could capture the experience in more illustrative terms. Here are some of the things we heard from people going through eviction



Specific Personas 

Our Lab students drew out specific User Personas of people going through eviction to represent their problems and needs.

MargaretUser Needs and Stories in the justice system