New online tool to help Victorians access legal help

New online tool to help Victorians access legal help

Friday, 17 February 2017

Code for Australia (CfA) and Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) have released a prototype online tool that will make it easier for community members to get legal assistance.

The new tool is expected to reduce pressure and save up to 30 hours per week of phone calls to VLA's Legal Help team.

Through the Code for Victoria Innovation Challenge, Design Engineer Rikke Winther-Sørensen, Product Managers Becca Blazak and Michael Calle, and Software Engineer Christian Arevalo, teamed up with VLA and were tasked with using technology to better match people with the right legal services.

The technology is based on extensive user research with community members and VLA staff across the state. After an analysis of service data, the first opportunity for improvement came through the online checker, which aims to help people who have legal problems that are considered ‘out of scope’ for VLA, meaning we are not the appropriate place for their legal problem.

Our Legal Help lawyers can spend up to 5 minutes on the phone for each caller who has an issue that is out of scope for VLA. The online checker provides an alternative way for these people to get help, simply by answering questions online, while also relieving wait times for others who have issues VLA can help with.

The first iteration of the online checker deals only with the most common out of scope matters for Legal Help. Feedback and learnings from the first version will be invaluable in further developing the tool to include more topics and help achieve the overall goal, of better matching people with the right legal service. 

Victoria Legal Aid Managing Director, Bevan Warner, says the new, fresh user-centred design prototype has great potential.

‘Learning from, and working with, the fellows has brought a dynamic perspective to Victoria Legal Aid, building our capacity to use design thinking, rapid prototyping and co-design. I am looking forward to seeing this prototype develop and also looking forward to see how Victoria Legal Aid can continue to grow and explore in applying user-centred design principles.’

The CfA team used coding from the gov.uk Legal Aid Checker (run by Government Digital Services, UK) as a starting point, and refined the tool to fit Australian needs. All code published by the CfA team is open source, meaning it can be replicated in other organisations who have similar needs. The code can be found on Github.

Find answers to your legal questions

The online tool aims to help you understand your options and decide what to do next.

More information 

For further information email Daisy Smith or call on 0427 916 923.