Justice Connect's digital innovation strategy is central to our organisation's aims to increase our reach and impact. With 8.5 million Australians each year experiencing a legal problem, and only half accessing help from a lawyer, the level of unmet legal need in Australia is staggering.
We have identified many areas where technology can play a role in enhancing our work:
- creating quick and easy pathways to apply for legal help online
- creating pathways to online resources including interactive self-help tools so that people can progress their legal issues without needing one-on-one assistance from a lawyer (where appropriate)
- facilitating easier referrals of clients from other agencies to Justice Connect
- using data and algorithms to efficiently match people with unmet legal needs to the 10,000 pro bono lawyers in our network
- gaining insights from trend analysis of the interactions with our service, and
- reaching hard to reach groups via online outreach strategies.
We are implementing our digital strategy through several key projects, and through advocating for increased use of user-centred technology in the legal sector to improve people's experiences of the legal system and access to justice.
Our digital innovation projects
The Legal Help Gateway
The Legal Help Gateway responds to two demands in Australia: the increasing need for free legal help for people who can’t afford a lawyer and aren’t eligible for government-funded Legal Aid, and the significant appetite in the private legal profession to undertake pro bono (free) legal work through Justice Connect.
The Legal Help Gateway will digitally transform and scale Justice Connect’s work, increasing the number of people and community organisations that Justice Connect can provide free legal assistance to. We will achieve this through creating process efficiencies, enabling more lawyers to do more pro bono, and increasing the accessibility of Justice Connect's services through online intake and triage, and online service delivery. Improved data collection and management will also help leverage latent pro bono capacity, understand trends in legal need and will inform our law reform and advocacy work to help us build a fairer legal system for Australians.
Online access points
We are working to build online access points so that case-workers, other agencies, as well as help-seekers, can interact with Justice Connect at any time, any day, online. This will save workers time in making referrals to Justice Connect, make applying easier for the cohort of our clients who have expressed a preference for applying for assistance online, and will also free our staff time. Processing referrals and applications that have been initiated with an online application takes significantly less time in many cases that entirely phone-based applications.
Online self-help resources
Justice Connect has committed to building out its suite of online self-help resources. After significant success through our Not-for-profit Law program's Information Hub, we are working to increase the self-help options available to clients of each of our services. In many cases, we are building interactive guidance, as well as fact sheets and audio-visual resources. Our clients do better when our legal advice can be complemented with resources, and these resources also enable people who are not eligible for our service to access the technical expertise of our lawyers.
Our community-building and advocacy
We work hard to build understanding the legal sector and government of the role that technology can play in increasing access to justice. Australia lags behind its international peers in its use of technology in the legal sector. There are many opportunities to help Australians access justice via technology, and we advocate for increased funding and support for these initiatives.
You can read our views in our submission to the Law Council of Australia's Justice Project, and our submission to the Digital Economy Strategy Consultation.