For someone who faces a legal problem for the first time, their difficulties begin at minute one, when, unfamiliar with a legal process or legal aid system, they struggle to determine what to do next, who to turn to for help, or even what questions to ask to find help. The day-zero chaos a person faces before finding the right individual, department, or organization to provide help, and the time spent redirecting clients who have guessed wrong, adds up to a daunting burden for everyone in the system.

As legal systems formalize, a friction builds between “traditional” and “modern” views of ownership, conflict resolution, and justice, playing out from national oil fields to the smallest of small claims disputes. Paradoxically, formal ways to resolve a grievance only improve and build trust with an increased volume of cases, but that volume will never arrive if citizens don’t trust a formal, unfamiliar system to meet their needs.

At SIMLab, we focus on making legal systems more accessible and comprehensible for clients at every level of connectivity, from helping court systems and legal aid providers identify accessibility gaps, streamline intake processes, and manage case volume to empowering individuals and communities to navigate legal systems, find legal help, and assert their rights and entitlements. We use technology to help integrate formal and informal conflict resolution systems, normalizing and legitimizing the experience of clients who move between them, and improving the enforcement weight of informal systems while bolstering the capacity of formal ones.

>> Download our Legal concept note. (PDF)


Keith Porcaro, Legal Project Director