In 2017, we commenced our ambitious Gateway Project, aiming to scale our impact through human-centred system design and development. Our ability to scale had been constrained by burdensome processes across multiple systems, platforms and spreadsheets.
At the same time, we set out to understand the experience of everyone that engages with our services and design new ways of working to better meet needs, and where appropriate, harness the potential of rapid advances in technology heralded by the digital era.
We believed that there were several areas of opportunity to investigate:
Starting with $250,000 of seed-funding from Google, in 2017 we commenced a year of research and co-design. Our research showed us that for help-seekers the legal system is confusing and difficult to navigate – that people looking for free legal help regularly have a poor experience of finding and connecting with relevant services. We found that lawyers want to do more pro bono work, but that matching up 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 services and feel more confident making referrals to Justice Connect.
Out of our research, we created a vision for Justice Connect’s future, and designed a suite of products that would help us to deliver on this vision.
Our bold vision is that Justice Connect will be accessible for people needing help, for workers that want to find the right help for their clients, and for organisations that need help for themselves. Guided online entry points will make understanding our services and whether we can help clear and easy. Applying for the help of a lawyer will be quick and transparent.
Technology will help us leverage pro bono too. With better systems tracking availability and interest within our pro bono network, we can allocate matters efficiently and help more lawyers contribute pro bono work more easily. Our pro bono lawyers will be able to actively search unplaced matters when they have capacity to take on extra pro bono work.
Communication across our programs, networks and with peer organisations will be greatly improved.
Our Gateway project work sits alongside our many other digital projects and investments, from building online self-help tools to our work on a new, state-of-the art client and relationship management system.
Based on our research and co-design we created a suite of products to transform Justice Connect. The Gateway cornerstone products are:
From early 2018, we have been building, launching and evaluating the different components of our Gateway Project. We have now completed each of the cornerstone suite of products, and each is in a different point in an evaluation and iteration cycle.
Central to our Gateway Project, has been engagement with our users at all stages of product development. All our Gateway Project products have been co-designed with the people who will ultimately use them. This is common sense, but we’ve found that it takes time and commitment to involve our users in design.
28 CO-DESIGN WORKSHOPS
22 COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES PARTICIPATED
49 HELP SEEKERS TESTED TOOL IN-PERSON
80 INTAKE TOOL USERS PARTICIPATING IN FOLLOW UP RESEARCH
14 LAW FIRMS PARTICIPATED IN PORTAL PILOT
The Myer Foundation
The Legal Services Board of Victoria
The Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety