Connecting with the international legal design community

Portable was recently invited to speak about it's work building the next-generation online dispute resolution platforms at the University of Haifa. By Luke Thomas.

We've been on a journey to make online dispute resolution (ODR) human for a few years now, as part of Portable's decade-long mission to improve access to justice. ODR is an exciting area for us because it's the perfect example of our approach to applied legal design, which is about solving legal problems by designing technology centred around user needs.

Last year, we got the opportunity to share this vision on the international stage by presenting our article, 'Making ODR Human', at the International Online Dispute Resolution Conference in Auckland. We presented what we learned working alongside innovative teams at courts, tribunals and ombudsmen to come up with better ways to design and implement dispute resolution technology. What we learned from designing ODR technology is that at its heart, online dispute resolution is about creating tools to help people sort out their own disputes cheaply, efficiently, and on their own time.

We make this a reality by developing workflows and journey maps to demonstrate how people actually experience their problem, identify user needs through design research, and design our technology products alongside the people experiencing the problems. We know disputes happen within a context, and people have very real and human needs that we should consider when building technology or systems to help them resolve their problems.

This unique opportunity to share our vision led to another first for Portable — getting to present our work to an international university. At the ODR conference, we connected with Orna Rabinovich-Einy, senior lecturer at the University of Haifa and co-author of one of the leading books on ODR, Digital Justice: Technology and the Internet of Disputes.

She arranged for us to present to her students in the Masters of Law and Technology course over a video link in June. The focus of the lesson that day was on dispute resolution systems and access to justice, so we decided to give a presentation on human-centred design for legal services. This allowed us to talk more generally about how technology can be used to meet the needs of people with a range of legal problems.

ODR is an important part of the wider legal design transformation, but part of our aim to rethink law as a service and not just an institution is to use design and technology solutions to make the before, during, and after court experience better for as many citizens as we can.

We've done this through co-designing an app to help people attend intervention order proceedings, through designing digital check-in and wayfinding for the Shepparton Law Courts, and by designing the first online family violence intervention order. We were thrilled to be able to share our work and ideas with interested students in a different country and legal system, as well as to hear about challenges and solutions in Israel. We're excited to see what the future hold for ODR and human-centred legal design, and hope to be able to share our work more.

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