Steps to Justice is a Canadian website run by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) containing practical legal tools like checklists, fillable forms and self-help guides (Smith, 2017). The website has a search bar on the home page to guide the user with a tab entitled ‘legal topics’ where the user can clearly see all of the specific topics and chose one that best suits their needs (Steps to Justice, 2020).
In addition, there are suggestions about what a user may want to search. For example, “I am having trouble with child support” (Steps to Justice, 2020). This gives the user the option to articulate in their own words which is beneficial as a user might not always be able to identify the distinct legal issue that their problem relates to. There is also a live chat function and email-based support for users with additional questions or support needs (Smith, 2017).
One thing that differentiates this website from other innovations in the justice sector is that it is a collaborative effort between a number of pro bono providers and as such, it is designed to specifically avoid the duplication of legal resources (Smith, 2017). The website also gives referrals to Ontario-based pro bono and social services where necessary (Smith, 2017). This leaves the user with one clear place to go to access legal information and local support which is less confusing; this is particularly valuable in relation to vulnerable users.
In addition, the website offers ‘Guided Pathways’ for housing and family law (Steps to Justice, 2020). The user is asked a series of questions about their legal issue and is guided to legal information and resources that is specific to their needs (Steps to Justice, 2020). The pathways give the user a time estimate of how long the process will take to complete and what they will need to have with them to answer the questions (Steps to Justice, 2020). The software encourages the user to make an account so that they can save their progress but also allows users to ‘continue as guest’ for those that would prefer not to (CLEO Interactive, 2020). In relation to security and privacy concerns around technology, offering the user the option of creating account but not making it mandatory may help to boost engagement with the innovation.
They offer training for community workers on how to use the website effectively (Steps to Justice, 2020). This can be translated to clients to provide additional support. Further, training community workers in a software may help to boost the popularity of the website as they may be more motivated to encourage clients to engage with it.
1. Smith, R. (2017) Triage Portals – three gets challenged by four. Law, Technology and Access to Justice [online]. Available from: https://law-tech-a2j.org/advice/triage-legal-portals-the-challenge-of-four/ [Accessed 2 April 2020].
2. About Steps to Justice (2020) StepstoJustice.ca [online]. Available from: https://stepstojustice.ca/about-steps-justice [Accessed 14 April 2020].
3. CLEO Interactive (2020) CleoInteractiveHelp.ca [online]. Available from: https://www.cleointeractivehelp.ca/Login/Login.aspx?OrganizationID=130&InterviewID=INT-000822 [Accessed 18 May 2020].