Fair and equitable access to justice through agile development & citizen-centered design.

SERVICES

Service Design
User Experience
Creative
Development

DELIVERABLES

User research
Prototypes
Usability testing
An online application

TECHNOLOGIES

Python
Django
OpenShift

SERVICES

DELIVERABLES

TECHNOLOGIES

Imagine you’re getting divorced.

It can be one of the most painful experiences in a person’s life. Even uncontested divorces — divorces where both parties agree on support, property, and debt — can leave a person feeling grieved, confused, and isolated.

Now imagine, in the middle of that stress, you’re forced to navigate a complex legal system, spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to get through it. Money you might not have. Which means trying to do it on your own, leading to frustrating errors that lead to even more delays and stress.

Access to justice shouldn’t be limited by one’s income.

Mistakes aren’t just a burden to individual citizens. The staff at the court registry spend time and resources processing, then rejecting erroneous filings, sometimes repeatedly. It’s a cost to the entire system—both to the Provincial Government and its citizens.

OpenRoad worked with the Ministry of the Attorney General to bring dignity, humanity, and empathy to the uncontested divorce process.

British Columbia’s Ministry of the Attorney General — responsible for administering justice and delivering public safety services across the province — approached OpenRoad to help simplify the uncontested divorce filing process. That meant addressing poor usability, technical limitations, and complex authentication procedures.

How to make uncontested divorce (more) accessible for all citizens, while driving costs down.

Size up the problem.

Every year, 10,000 British Columbians file for divorce. Of those, 30% are uncontested divorces. Unfortunately, most uncontested divorce filings are done incorrectly, and are rejected the first time.

Those who succeed likely have lawyers guiding them through the complex, time-consuming, and error-prone process. And while $1,600 in legal fees might sound affordable for some people, for many citizens it’s not only hard to pay — it’s practically impossible.

Give everyone a voice.

Making a service better starts with design research. To understand the current process—both its strengths and its shortcomings—our Service Design team travelled across the province to conduct stakeholder interviews. We studied the forms, read the laws, and worked closely with the Superior Courts Judiciary. We listened to people who had used the old system, lawyers familiar with the process, judges, and filing clerks who rejected or accepted forms at the Ministry.

Unravel what people need.

Through our research we uncovered a common narrative about what the ideal service experience might look like.

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Methods matter.

Work within (and around) government IT constraints

Most government release schedules and process aren’t conducive to the rapid iteration and deployment model that the project demanded. Through the Ministry of Citizen Services we were able to utilize a state of the art cloud platform called OpenShift. Using this lightweight, open-source platform in conjunction with modern development tools like Django and Python, we were able to quickly build, deploy, and continuously improve during the private beta evaluation period.

OpenShift

Test in the real world.

Before launching the service at scale, we released a private beta in select Courthouse Libraries BC and Justice Access Centre locations. Insights from real users helped us discover blind spots and improve the service even more, using real-world data.

Collaborate with clients.

We helped government innovate using technologies that were open source, and processes that were transparent, documented, and repeatable. This empowers the Ministry to maintain the service in the long term, rather than being tied to a single vendor.

Collaborate with clients.

We helped government innovate using technologies that were open source, and processes that were transparent, documented, and repeatable. This empowers the Ministry to maintain the service in the long term, rather than being tied to a single vendor.

Designing for justice.

Our Online Divorce Application Assistant makes the process of filing for uncontested divorces faster and easier for citizens in the middle of a highly-emotional and stressful period in their lives.

By using a series of plain language questions that can be answered in about 15 to 30 minutes, the Assistant generates the correct forms already filled out, ready to be printed and dropped off at a local court registry. The simple interface also saves citizens approximately $1,600 in legal fees, ensuring fairer, more equitable access to this vital public service.

"Over time, I anticipate a significant decrease in rejection rates and an increase in court administration capacity. I hope citizens will become empowered to take control of their own justice needs with confidence."

— Kevin Conn, Director Transformation & Training

Using a human centred design approach we created an online application that makes filing for uncontested divorces accessible to British Columbians without a lawyer.

SERVICES

Service Design
User Experience
Creative
Development

DELIVERABLES

User research
Prototypes
Usability testing
An online application

TECHNOLOGIES

Python
Django
OpenShift

SERVICES

DELIVERABLES

TECHNOLOGIES

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