Friday, June 1, 2018

Hagan on A Human-Centered Design Approach to Access to Justice

Margaret Hagan (Stanford Design Lab) has posted an article entitled "A Human-Centered Design Approach to Access to Justice: Generating New Prototypes and Hypotheses for Innovation to Make Courts User-Friendly."  Here's the abstract: 

"How can the court system be made more navigable and comprehensible to unrepresented laypeople trying to use it to solve their family, housing, debt, employment, or other life problems? This Article chronicles human-centered design work to generate solutions to this fundamental challenge of access to justice. It presents a new methodology: human-centered design research that can identify key opportunity areas for interventions, user requirements for interventions, and a shortlist of vetted ideas for interventions. This research presents both the methodology and these “design deliverables” based on work with California state courts’ Self Help Centers. It identifies seven key areas for courts to improve their usability, and, in each area, proposes a range of new interventions that emerged from the class’s design work. This research lays the groundwork for pilots and randomized control trials, with its proposed hypotheses and prototypes for new interventions, that can be piloted, evaluated, and—ideally—have a practical effect on how comprehensible, navigable, and efficient the civil court system is."

The article is available at SSRN or at the Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality

Current Affairs, Recent Scholarship | Permalink


This article is certainly welcome. What should we give for access to justice, especially one that is human-centered? But we do not need to imagine new prototypes and hypotheses. We do not need to wonder: "What would a court experience look like that would be navigable, accessible, supportive, and engaging? How can it be easier for a person without a lawyer to use the rules, procedures, and customs of the justice system to get to a resolution to their problem with minimal intimidation, confusion, and inconvenience? And what is the process we can use to get to these innovative ideas and vet them?”

The process we can use is easy: look beyond our borders and study foreign successes! The article recognizes that (British Columbia and the Dutch HiiL) but does not follow up.

When it comes to access to justice, the ABA-supported rule-of-law index rates the U.S. a dismal 94th out of 113 systems reviewed but Uruguay 1st, the Netherlands 2nd and Germany 5th.

I know that of Germany. Long ago my dissertation advisor there told me the basis of its success. It’s a Latin maxim: “da mihi factum, dabo tibi jus,” i.e., “give me the facts and I will give you right.” Access to justice is better served, much better served, with a non-adversarial system. See, James Maxeiner, Failures of American Civil Justice in International Perspective 105, 170 (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Posted by: James R Maxeiner | Jun 3, 2018 12:46:16 AM

Post a comment