Designing for Access to Justice

Introduction to the blog symposium on Legal Design

by Siddharth de Souza

Over the last few years at Justice Adda, we have been thinking about how we can redesign and reimagine the way in which legal content is produced and consumed. We are interested in identifying what are the barriers that prevent people from using the law and legal systems, and what role does the complexity of legal information play in constraining people’s participation to access their rights and entitlements.


In our mission to contribute to legal awareness and legal literacy, we hope to be able to build legal content that's speaks a language and takes a form that is relatable, and at the same time becomes a tool to support more engagement, from a citizens perspective, with the Indian legal system. To do this, we are interested in thinking about the intersection of design and justice, to find ways to build material, develop processes, and promote practices that are collaborative and empowering for justice users. This requires a shift to building a more grounded and empathetic approach that is accountable to a justice user. It continues be a work in progress for us in how we design and develop our projects.


In adopting a human centered approach to building accessible legal content, we are interested in examining, as Margaret Hagan describes, both the front end of legal systems, which is how people navigate legal systems, as well as the back end which which is how the rules and procedures work. This implies thinking about the informational and knowledge asymmetries between the law and the people who use the law it, the financial and the opportunity costs of participating in legal processes, and the institutional challenges that exist when the design of systems of governance, do not consider the lives that people live. These are but some of the problems that animate our work, and they are centered around unpacking how to enhance access to information, and access to justice.




(Image credit: Siddhi Gupta, for Fem Lab)


In this blog symposium, we are very happy to have an opportunity to bring together a diverse set of reflections from academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs who will each examine how, through their work, they are building more useful and usable ways of engaging with the Indian legal system. We are keen to be able to build a community of practice around law and design, and learn and share ideas and approaches on how to make the law work for everyone. The blog symposium will respond to different issues from questions of governance, to contract design, to legal education and dispute resolution and it will be an ongoing set of reflections over the next weeks and months.


We see this symposium as an opportunity to reflect on the different ways in which work at the intersection of law and design is taking place, and we hope that over the course of time, we are able to produce reflections, on how this connects to building a more human centered and responsive legal system in India that accounts for the needs of all justice users.



In case you are interested in contributing to this blog symposium please write to siddharth.justiceadda@gmail.com


Siddharth is the Founder of Justice Adda

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Justice Adda was a part of the Cambridge Social Ventures Programme in the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School 2016-17.