Justice Connect Gateway Project
- Justice Connect
- Today Design
Each year, as 8.5 million Australians experience legal problems, half won’t have access to legal assistance.
Justice Connect links people and not-for-profits who need help to our specialist legal services and pro bono referral network of over 10,000 lawyers.
The Gateway Project delivers a human-centred design-driven overhaul of Justice Connect services, processes and systems. It has resulted in a world-first, end-to-end access to justice solution that is significantly improving service accessibility, unlocking latent pro bono capacity and increasing the reach and impact of Justice Connect\’s work.
Over 3 years, our Gateway Project has involved deep user research with 6 user groups (help-seekers, solicitors, barristers, community lawyers, referrers, staff) and careful human-centred design.
We have followed up design research with intensive evaluations (e.g. https://justiceconnect.org.au/about/our-approach/digitalinnovation/
Our work is internationally recognised. We regularly present at international conferences and are in conversation with international peers around licensing options. We were recently awarded a Gold Australian Good Design Award.
Top-tier firm Herbert Smith Freehills has noted: “We strongly support this thoughtful, design-led approach to harnessing technology so that we can better match unmet legal need with pro bono resources.”
The Gateway Project has resulted in adaptable, scalable and portable digital products and process improvements. Each product aims to improve a cluster of identified issues and harmoniously provide a smooth pathway to service for eligible help-seekers.
Since implementation, the following impacts have been achieved:
• number of people assisted by Justice Connect online has doubled, and over 17,000 people have used our new tool to check their eligibility for free legal advice
• help-seeker processing time by Justice Connect has reduced by between 22-44% across program areas
• 15 firms participated in a pro bono portal co-design pilot
• 49 law firms across Australia have now adopted the Pro Bono Portal and are using it to connect with people with unmet legal need
• New website increased traffic, and our Help page is now our most popular page (up from 10th most popular 12 months ago)
We have completely digitally transformed Justice Connect’s work through our design-led transformation approach.
Whereas three years ago Justice Connect was largely analogue, all services are accessible via online channels, we are more integrated with our peer organizations, we have better access to our network of pro bono lawyers, and we have redesigned all of our business and customer processes. We are also now able to look at real-time data on unmet need and pro bono capacity so that we can spot trends and address issues early.
This is all resulting in higher volumes of people assisted and lower burden on our staff, which is freeing their time to focus on high impact areas of work from outreach, support to high-needs clients, law reform work and service evaluation.
Through our research we heard that help-seekers and people looking for free legal help, regularly have poor experiences in finding and connecting with relevant services.
We found that lawyers want to do more pro bono work, but that matching unmet need with relevant expertise is time-consuming and labour-intensive.
We also heard that our sector colleagues wanted to better understand Justice Connect’s different programs and feel more confident making referrals to Justice Connect
Our Gateway Project addresses each of these concerns using innovative, design-driven approaches. The investment in a design-driven approach has resulted in products that fundamentally meet the needs of users and are driving significant positive impacts for the beneficiaries of Justice Connect\’s services.
Our cornerstone products focus on different functions of providing legal help:
• an online eligibility checker
• an online intake system facilitating full, guided, online intake and applications from help-seekers
• an online inbound referral system for sector peers to check eligibility and send people deeply into our services, reducing referral dropout
• a pro bono portal enabling firms to maintain a firm profile with pro bono preference. Staff post pro bono opportunities. These opportunities are then algorithmically matched with firms. Firms can also browse unplaced matters. This is all releasing efficiencies and latent capacity in the pro bono network.
• a new website delivers clear help-seeker and referrer pathways, prioritising our most vulnerable users.