20 November 2006

Designing a better user experience of the legal system [Business Week]

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A2J Author
Last week Business Week released the third edition of its “IN:Inside Innovation” supplement and it contains an interesting case study on how the US government, in collaboration with the Illinois Institute of Technology is using the latest methods in consumer-focused design to create a better user experience of the legal system.

“Global businesses are well along in adopting design thinking to shape their strategies, as well as their products. Now governments are beginning to look to design to solve problems in education, transportation, and defense. In the U.S., moving to a customer-centered legal system is making it easier for people to represent themselves in courts.”

“More Americans than ever before are representing themselves in court, propelled by skyrocketing attorney costs. In big cities, between 70% and 90% of people who go to court for domestic abuse or the loss of their home do so without a lawyer, according to statistics from California and New York. Also, while most courts and legal aid organizations have created Web storefronts where legal forms can be downloaded in seconds, these forms still use complex, often baffling terminology. So people frequently fill them out incorrectly, forcing clerks to redirect and judges to throw out scores of cases.”

“The government and the legal system are slow to innovate. But a team of both design and law students from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) used the latest methods in consumer-focused design to create a powerful tool: the A2J (Access to Justice) Author. This is an interactive software tool with a dynamic digital guide, a 3D avatar on your computer screen that helps you fill out legal forms. A2J Author makes it cheaper, easier, and faster for Americans to represent themselves in court for divorce, small claims, child support, domestic abuse, and landlord-tenant disputes. Courts and legal aid offices in Illinois and Idaho now use A2J Author, and at least 10 other states plan to roll it out in 2007.”

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Also in Inside Innovation is “The Importance Of Great Customer Experiences“, a short article by Jeneanne Rae of Peer Insight where she predicts that customer experience will decide the winners and losers in the years ahead

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