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Case Studies

Below the Belt app

An app providing free, interactive legal information to young people in Australia. Although it is no longer in use, an evaluation by the app creator provides us with key learnings for future innovations.

Use: legal support for young people in Australia.

Below the Belt was an app designed by the Community Legal Education Program at Victoria Legal Aid offering targeted, interactive and free legal information to young people in Australia (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). Within six months of its introduction, the install rates were low and the uninstall rates were high (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). In addition, the app had become incompatible with recently updated Android software (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). After a year, the designers scrapped the app (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). Although the app is no longer in use, there are a number of learnings that can be employed in exploring new innovations.

Research conducted after the app had been introduced found that young people preferred to use Google to research legal issues or ask a family member for help and used apps solely as an entertainment platform (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). This is powerful research that could have been really beneficial to the project if it had been known before the app was introduced. This research reflects the importance of creating an innovation focussed on the experience of the user and reinforces the point that retrospective evaluation of an innovation is not enough to ensure user engagement with it.

In their evaluation of the demise of the app, Victoria Legal Aid also concluded that the app had not been marketed correctly (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). This was partly due to time and costs constraints on the pro bono service (Victoria Legal Aid, 2016). This is an indication of the digital divide in legal technology with the justice sector being underfunded and not having the resources to explore or properly market innovations that may help them to serve clients more efficiently. Innovation funding in the justice sector is becoming more prevalent with competitions like the SRA’s Legal Access Challenge but more can be done to redress the imbalance between public and private practice in relation to legal technology.

Related themes

References

1. Victoria Legal Aid (2016) Case Study of Below the Belt phone app [online]. Victoria Legal Aid. Available from: www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/sites/www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/files/vla-case-study-below-the-belt-phone-app.pdf [Accessed 14 April 2020].

2. Smith, R. (2019) Annual Report Summer 2019: The Digital Delivery of Legal Services to people on low incomes. The Legal Education Foundation. Available at: www.thelegaleducationfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Digital-Technology-Summer-2019.pdf [Accessed 12 April 2020].

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