Avainsana: access to justice

Episode 42: Visiting Virtual Courts with Dan Jackson, Molly French and Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee

Molly French (on top), Dan Jackson and Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee.

In this episode we talk about virtual reality in courts and how it can promote access to justice. Having to go to court can be once in a lifetime experience for quite many people. It might be nerve- racking and even scary not knowing what is going to happen at court, especially for self represented litigants.  A lot of courts might not even see this problem because for courts and people who work there, it’s everyday life. Besides financial resources, not being familiar with the court processes might affect people to seek resolution to their cases just because the whole concept is so hard to understand.

We meet with Dan Jackson, Molly French and Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee who have created The Colorado Virtual Courthouse,  a guided  360-degree virtual tour of a Colorado courthouse, designed to help Self Represented Litigants navigate court and improve access to justice. It introduces key court staff, explains common court procedures, and provides resources and information to promote better legal outcomes for self represented litigants.

Dan Jackson has directed the NuLawLab at Northeastern University School of Law since 2013. Dan is a 1997 graduate of Northeastern Law and a 1990 graduate of Northwestern University. Following a postgraduate clerkship with The Hon. Hugh H. Bownes at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Dan worked for 13 years with the law firm of Bingham McCutchen, ultimately serving as the firm’s director of attorney development after practicing in the employment law group. Prior to law school, Dan worked as a designer for theater. He continues to do so, most recently with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and The Provincetown Theater.

Molly French currently works as Technology Manager at Colorado Legal Services in Denver, CO. She is on the advisory board of the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project, and has served as the Chair of the Colorado Access to Justice Commission’s Technology Committee, and is currently serving as a member of the Communications and Technology Committees. She is curious about and interested in all things technology-related to assist in the promotion of access to justice, including the integration of virtual reality into online tools, and broadband expansion efforts.

Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee jointly founded HELM Social Design Studio in 2015, the first social design studio in South Asia dedicated to partnering with human rights defenders and their organizations to ideate, fund and build social design solutions that promote human rights and access to justice (http://helmstudio.org/). Her work is informed by more than a decade of experience working with more than 20 grassroots campaigns and civil society organizations in the U.S., South Asia, and East Africa, using legal, media and community organizing approaches. Shikha is a PhD Candidate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at UC Berkeley. She has also completed a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a BA in English and Ethnicity, Race and Migration from Yale University. Her research takes an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective in understanding labour markets, supply chains, migration, and variegated citizenship with a focus on gender, race, and caste in the global economy.

Episode 27: Merging Law, Design and Engineering with Lab de Diseño Para la Justicia

Laura Guzman-Abello, Santiago Pardo Rodríguez and Santiago De Francisco Vela.

We’ve discuss a lot about interdisciplinarity and team work in this podcast. Now it’s time to hear from from the experts how to merge design, legal and engineering expertise.

This week we discuss the role of interdisciplinarity, human emotions and engineering skills in legal design. We hear what lawyers, engineers and designers could learn from each other, and how to combine these three fields of expertise into one when designing better access to justice solutions. We also hear what positive design is and why lawyers should care more about emotions. But why would engineers already make great legal innovators? And what explains the popularity of legal design in Colombia?

Our guests in this episode lead The Design for Justice Lab, Lab de Diseño Para la Justicia, a joint venture founded in 2019 between the law, design and engineering schools in Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

The Lab integrates design thinking and systems thinking into law school curriculums with the purpose to improve the judicial system. Santiago Pardo Rodríguez is a lawyer and the founding member of the Lab, Laura Guzman-Abello is an industrial engineer engaged in policy design, and Santiago De Francisco Vela is a designer specialised in emotions and positive design. Together with their students this brilliant trio is on a mission to improve the future of law in Colombia. Tune in to hear how it is about to happen.

Santiago De Francisco Vela is a designer and professor in the School of Design at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá Colombia. He has been working in emotions and positive design, fostering emotional experiences and positive behaviors through product design. His areas of interest involve design for well-being, financial and social innovation, and behavioral design. He is a member of the Design for Justice Lab.

Laura Guzman-Abello is an industrial engineer who works in research and consultancy in design, strategy and organizational management oriented towards the design of public policy. Her work focuses on decision-making processes and engineering designs with a systemic and participatory approach. She has worked with public sector entities, international organizations, and universities. She is a lecturer of the School of Engineering at Universidad de los Andes and a Design for Justice Lab member.

Santiago Pardo Rodríguez is a lawyer, with an LLM from the Universidad de los Andes, an MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society from the London School of Economics & Political Science, and a Master of the Science of Law from Stanford University. His research areas are Constitucional Law, Judicial Systems, Empirical Legal Studies, and Legal Design applied to justice. He is a founding member of the Design for Justice Lab.

The Design for Justice Lab (DJL) is a joint venture founded in 2019 between the Schools of Law, Design, and Engineering of Universidad de los Andes that integrates design thinking and systems thinking to law school curriculums to think in new ways to overcome access to justice barriers in Colombia. The projects go through a process of exploration, ideation and prototyping with the purpose of improving the judicial system.
https://labjusticia.uniandes.edu.co/

16. Episode: Systemic Change in Law with Nóra Al Haider

Nóra Al Haider.

Good news guys! In order to make law better, lawyers don’t have to become designers or coders. But what we need to have are curiosity and an open mindset. In this episode Henna and Nina are joined by Nora Al Haider to discuss how to make more of a systematic change in law.  

Quite often, lawyers see legal problems only in a legal way. But because law is interlinked to other systems, we have to start inviting other disciplines into the space of law without judgement. And we have to go beyond design and simply start to ask other professionals how they solve problems and explore in multidisciplinary teams. And when we learn new ways to solve problems from other disciplines, we create new methodologies and that is where the change begins.  

Nowadays, the legal industry turns to legal design and legal technology when trying to find a way towards more human-centric law, but those two are not going to solve our problems alone. We need more systematic change and we have to make sure that the projects aiming to change the law and the legal system aren’t just single projects happening here and there. Because of her unique and interesting career path and background, Nora can see the differences between the American and European legal systems and she shares her insights on what should be done in both systems in order to make law more accessible in a more sustainable way.

Nóra Al Haider is the Policy and Design Lead at the Stanford Legal Design Lab. Nóra is a multilingual lawyer and interdisciplinary researcher from the Netherlands. She combines the fields of law, design and tech to increase access to justice and equity in the legal system. 

Her pioneering and innovative creations from social media bots that provide legal advice to analyzing the legal needs of users on online platforms earned her international acclaim in the legal field. Nóra’s legal design projects and interactive art installations have been spotlighted at courts, bar associations, legal organizations and in law schools around the world. She is driven by merging various disciplines, processes, and methodologies to enact systemic change in the justice system. Nóra holds a Bachelor (honours) and Research Master in Law from Utrecht University.

5. Episode: Innovation in Courts with Andrea Lindblom

Andrea Lindblom

Courts, like all legal institutions, are designed for lawyers. However, the people whose lives going to court affect the most are the legal laymen. How these real end-users of courts would benefit, if their needs were addressed by re-designing the court experience?

In this fifth episode of the podcast series we talk about the possibilities of innovation, technology and legal design in courts with Andrea Lindblom, who works as the Chief of Administration in the District Court of Helsingborg, Sweden. 

Courts are known to be the blind services of the justice, pursuing objectivity, formality and the rule of law. For non-lawyers, however, a court process can be full of obscurities and evoke feelings of disconnection, anxiety and lack of control over one’s own case, not to mention the possibility of financial losses. For most of the people going to court is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, often leaving bitter-sweet memories that last for life. But what if legal design could help make the court experience more satisfying, and not just for the end-users but the lawyers as well?

Making courts more human-centric is not the only update courts might need these days. Courts are struggling to keep up with the rapid technological development and the new ways of providing court services in the digital world – all while resources are tight and case numbers going high. Experimenting for new ideas does not come easy, though, as lawyers are traditionally trained to look backwards when solving problems. Design thinking mindsets such as ”fail fast” and ”be curious” are rarely combined to the work done in courts.

How to initiate the needed change in courts, Andrea? “I think it is quite urgent that courts have an open mindset towards, for example, new  technology, and new ways of doing things. We need to find ways to experiment lightly, gently, because it’s much better for us to fail small and early in a process, then massively and late”.

Andrea Lindblom graduated from Lund University (law) in 2009. She has been working at Helsingborg District Court since 2011. During the last few years she has focused on issues relating to the presence of the courts and judges on social media and how digitalization affects the courts. In March 2019 Helsingborg District Court arranged Sweden’s first legal tech & design workshop in the public sector. Andrea was awarded Legal Innovator of the Year in 2019 and was one of the winners in the category Public Services, Politics & Social at European Women of Legal Tech in 2020.

3. Episode: DIY Legal Help with Erin Levine

Erin Levine

In this episode Henna and Nina talk about DIY Legal Help with Erin Levine, legal innovator and entrepreneur from California.

Erin shares the story behind her revolutionary online divorce platform Hello Divorce. The DIY platform helps people applying for divorce to navigate through the divorce process independently. Erin tells us who are the potential users for DIY legal help services and how technology has changed the way her team of lawyers work today. We also discuss what else should be changed in the legal industry by design. Why is it important to mitigate the negative image of legal problems, such as divorce? Do we also need a platform “Hello Bankruptcy”? And what is the one thing that almost all customers want from their legal services? Nina gets goosebumps by Erin’s inspiring mission to promote justice through tech, yet promises not to divorce her husband.

Erin Levine is a legal innovator, entrepreneur, and Certified Family Law Specialist. She is the CEO and Founder of Hello Divorce, an award winning online platform that helps self-represented folks navigate the divorce process on their own through a web platform, accessing legal help when they need additional help along the way.  As a young adult, she brought criminal and civil charges against a former gymnastics coach, and experienced the legal system as chaotic, confusing, and amplifying her trauma rather than bringing justice. She later became a divorce litigator. 

Despite her success as a law firm owner, she realized there must be a better way and pivoted into justice-technology. Erin works relentlessly to simplify family law, reduce trauma for those seeking relief from the court and help people get back on their feet. Her design centered and sustainable approach to the delivery of legal services has been recognized by the legal industry and beyond with recent accomplishments that include the American Bar Association‘s James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in E-lawyering and Duke University School of Law’s Legal Tech Accelerator – Grand Prize. Erin’s current projects include raising her two daughters, Zoe and Mia, along with managing the national roll out of Hello Divorce’s products and services.