Supreme Court Access
- Paper Giant
- Supreme Court Victoria
Court can feel intimidating and exclusive to the general public, making it less likely they will claim their democratic right to pursue justice. Access to justice can also be measured by the backlog of cases: are people who seek justice getting their cases heard in a timely manner?
In 2020 the Supreme Court of Victoria Registry asked Paper Giant to redesign their service. Together with staff and Court users, we co-designed a digital service and value proposition that is easier for people to access and reduces the case backlog through process efficiencies and clear self-service guidance.
We worked closely with Supreme Court Registry staff and Court users to design a service offering that brings clarity, not the confusion court users typically find.
Staff had previously relied on behind the scenes ‘hacks’ to get the functionality they need. An in-depth design research phase led into intensive participatory design sprints.
We used these participatory methods to create a web-based service with robust functionality that is sustainable and scalable.
In a sector based on complex language, we found every opportunity to embed the principles of communications design to make challenging concepts and instructions accessible to the layperson.
When justice is seen as not worth pursuing because it is intimidating and exclusive, we are failing as a democratic society. People who seek justice may give up on accessing their democratic right, because the barrier to entry is too high.
Redesigning the service allows the Registry to better serve its purpose: being the front door to justice in the highest court in the state. Making it easier and less intimidating for people to access that service and carry a case through to its end means improving access to justice, keeping the case backlog down, and ultimately furthering democracy.
Working directly with the highest court in the state was a significant opportunity to show how transformational human-centred and participatory design can be. The Court has seen tangible improvements to their everyday assets, particularly their website.
The work we delivered on user archetypes has already been included in their training materials and is now helping frontline staff understand their users.
The enthusiasm and dedicated involvement of the Supreme Court team showed us the value of this process, and we are now in talks to deliver a training course to build the Court’s capability to use design methods and thinking.
Design research and archetype development showed us the experience of Supreme Court users is influenced by four key experiences (such as having a personal support network) – not whether they are a lawyer or a self-represented litigant. This was a groundbreaking discovery for Court staff, who believed lawyers as a user group shouldn’t have needs and “should be able to help themselves”.
This key finding helped us convince the Court that lawyers’ needs require responding to. Service outcomes were then designed to make the court more accessible not only for self-represented litigants, but for the first time, also for lawyers.
COVID-19 lockdowns struck midway through the project. We are incredibly proud of rapidly pivoting to remote research and delivering a body of work while supporting our project team – Paper Giant and Supreme Court – through the challenges that arose.
Our original design sprint approach was incompatible with the Zoom format, so we re-designed it mid-flight, breaking up each round into smaller pieces to “ping pong” work back and forth.
Homework exercises and asynchronous ideation led to a quality and breadth of thinking from our participants that we believe was better than what would have been produced in a traditional environment.