How might we help lawyers to simplify tedious and archaic process of hearing court orders?
Coform is a website for lawyers to create and manage clients' cases and court orders.
Clients get back to us and are interested in further development.
Meg Dimma, Terence Yuan, Jaymie Pizarro, Steve Zhang, Elaine Han
Research, Wireframe, Hi-fidelity prototype, Usability Test
User Interview, Secondary Research, Sketch, Mockingbot
We started our project by following the user-centered design process, we firstly conducted interviews and secondary research to discover the problems, then we went to the ideation phase. After sketching our ideas into prototypes, we did usability testing and iterated to the final solution based on the feedback.
Public frustration with the BC legal system is no secret. The cost is high, the process is complicated, the service is poor. While many industries have begun working smarter over the last decade, the British Columbia legal system has been slow to adopt technologies that would drive better practises.
Our client came to school and kicked off a project to see if we could find a way to improve the current inefficiencies that exist in the court order system, so that they as lawyers could spend more time focusing on things that really matter.
" When a judge wants to compel a person to do something (eg. pay a certain amount of money), or prevent a person from doing something (eg, don't sell a property), he issues a formal written direction called an 'order'. "
-- Our Client.
We conducted interviews with several lawyers to understand the process of hearing court orders and their pain points during the process.
The process of a court order system is tedious and archaic.
A person seeks legal help. He or she becomes the client of a lawyer. They take their case to court. After presenting the case, the judge declares a verbal order. The clerk in the courthouse takes notes. The lawyer then must retrieve those notes from the registry, then go back to their office and draft a formal court order. The court order must then be approved and signed by the opposing lawyers.
The current process is all done in print, with ink signatures, and transfers of documentation is done by courier.
After researching, we found four key pain points from lawyers below:
We also gathered documents such as samples of various court orders and civil cases to further understand the content. We learned that there are most three common types of orders.
Also, we studied similar portals and researched on other CRM systems. The four main ideas that resonated with us were:
1. The current websites mostly focus on managing relationships between lawyers and clients but ignore the cost of communication with other legal parties.
2. The current system that they are using is comprehensive management for everyone in the law office instead of only focus on lawyers.
Considering that we only have 2 months to develop the project, thus we started the project from the stage of drafting a hearing order to the stage of getting approval from opposing lawyers.
So our design goal is to provide a web portal for lawyers to efficiently manage documents after the process of hearing court orders and to cooperate with opposing lawyers in privacy.
Based on the research results, we synthesized the information and set the direction of our design principles.
We created an interactive prototype, here are the main pages:
After we narrowed down the main ideas for creating the prototype, we conducted user testing with two lawyers to evaluate our ideas. Also, because it was also a learning experience of our school projects, we were tasked to have user testings with cohorts and faculties.
Our objective for tests were to:
1. To determine ease of navigation and functionality for specific tasks.
2. To identify proper usage of legal terms.
3. To gain feedback on recommended improvements.
The test was done on a low fidelity interactive prototype. The users were provided with the specific scenarios tasks to navigate with the website. After completing the tasks, the testers were asked to complete a post-test questionnaire. Then we also had an end-of-session interview.
The main take-away was:
1. Implement a notification system that the other party has viewed and signed the court order.
2. Add breadcrumbs to tell users where they are now.
Search & Sort documents
Lawyers can use the custom search bar to find cases, clients and court orders that are already stored in the portal efficiently, and use filters to sort by case name, due date.
Lawyers can create new templates of court orders, clients and cases with a click of a button and input data into labelled fields. The system stores all information in an organized way.
Lawyers can now easily add other plaintiffs and send drafted court orders digitally to other lawyers, and they will be notified when other lawyers have signed off on orders.
Lawyers can also set status and upcoming deadlines to always stay organized.
For providing flexibility, lawyers can also share or print the court order from the portal.
Identify Verification by opposing lawyers
Lawyers can send a drafted court order digitally to the opposing lawyers. Opposing lawyers who are not currently using the system will receive an email notifying them that they have a Court Order waiting to be approved and signed. When they wish to take a look at the document, they click in the email and a text verification code will be sent to their mobile device. Once they enter the code, access will be granted.
Keep track of court orders by timeline
Create a custom progress timeline to track where client/case is at. Lawyers can create a status and input notes so they always know where to pick up where they left off.
Once the opposing lawyers update any information of the court order, the timeline is also in sync.
The inefficiencies that exist within the current legal landscape are not limited to the court order process, Coform is just the beginning of an efficient and intuitive organization system for lawyers to manage and file court orders with the opposing lawyers. For the next step, there is still the opportunity to expand the platform into a full-fledged organization and communication tool among lawyers, their clients and the judiciary to modernize the court order system.
It was the first time for me to design a CRM system, except to keep the efficiency of design in mind, to think about the needs of everyone who will use the software is also important, not only because it would ensure the fast communication between different parties, but also it might refer to privacy and security issues.