Legal Help Online Dashboard

Use the Legal Help Online Dashboard to improve your legal aid or court website.

The Legal Help Online Dashboard gives you best practices, rankings, tools, and audits to make a legal website that people can find & use.

People working for a court, legal aid group, law library, or law help site can use these free resources to improve their legal help website.

Ready to improve your website? Get started with 4 key areas: Discovery, Tech, Design, and Content.

The Legal Help Dashboard will walk you through reviews on each area, and then strategies to improve on each.

1

Discovery & Rank

Make it easier for people to find your website online — especially to have higher search engine placement.

2

Tech Performance

Make your website faster, bug-free, mobile-friendly, secure, and less burdensome for people to use.

3

User-Friendly Design

Design your site to be engaging, trustworthy, accessible, and clear.

4

Good Content

Ensure you have info on the right topics, in the right language, in the right format.

Use Our Data on Legal Help Websites & Needs

Our group at Stanford Legal Design Lab is compiling data to help courts, legal aid groups, and others track what websites are offering legal help, what needs there are, and how different sites and Internet platforms are doing.

Explore our data to understand more about legal help online.

Monthly Visitors to Legal Help Websites

Check to see estimates, as of 2021, of how many people are visiting different legal help websites to get help.

Proportions of Needs a Legal Help Website Serves

How many of a jurisdiction’s justice needs is a website serving? How much of the public are they connecting with? This data presents the proportion of website visits compared with local population with legal needs.

Tech Performance of Legal Help Websites

Is a legal help website built well? Does it follow best practices around technical accessibility, security, bugs, speed, and stability? Find the rankings and specific action items for sites.

Master List of Legal Help Websites

What are all of the legal help websites that offer help to people in the US? Our group has been compiling this ‘supply’ list, including both commercial and public interest websites.

Legal Issues Taxonomy

What are standard ways to reference the legal issues that a person might experience? We have built the Legal Issues Taxonomy (LIST) to have machine-readable, standard codes for the problems people experience & lawyers can help with.

Our Latest Posts on Legal Help Online

  • Designing a Landing Page for Legal Help
    What should the landing page of your legal help website look like? What should it say, and what’s its purpose? Our team has been working with courts and legal aid groups to design websites for the public.…
  • Get legal schema markup on Drupal
    We have had many requests from our colleagues on the Legal Help Online Cohort, about how to get schema markup onto their Drupal website. Here is a first way to do get key Schema markup onto your…
  • Keyword research tools for improving legal help outreach
    How do legal professionals know what people are searching for online? This is important, so they understand their needs, phrases, and ways to engage them. One way to do this research is through SEO-oriented tools, called Keyword…
  • What can go wrong with legal info online?
    When talking to other researchers and practitioners working on improving the Internet, much of the discussion is around: Trust and Safety Privacy Misinformation, Disinformation Polarization Extremism What’s happening in the domain of legal help doesn’t fit neatly…
  • How to search online for legal help
    If you are having a legal problem, it can be hard to know who can help. If you turn to Google, which sites should you click on? Which sites can help you? How to Use Google to…

Why Invest in a Better Legal Help Website?

People are going online to find help for their justice problems.
They turn to the Internet to find help with money, housing, family, work, and other legal issues.

But can they find reliable, accurate, and actionable help online?
Ideally, search engines & social media will show them accurate, actionable, and empowering information on legal rights & services.

Use the Legal Help Online Dashboard to make quality legal help websites.
This site guides courts, legal aid, and nonprofits on making online resources that people can find & use.

Stanford Legal Design lab

The Legal Help Dashboard is a project run by Stanford Legal Design Lab, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Key Steps to Making a Great Legal Help Website

Step 1: Make Better Content

Put legal information up that that people want when they’re searching online for help. This includes the topics you cover & the format you present it in.

  • Have legal information on popular legal help topics: debt collection, eviction, landlord-tenant problems, domestic violence restraining orders, possible housing contractor scams or fraud, divorce, custody, child support, driver’s license reissue, name change, wage theft, and clearing a criminal record. See a list of all the popular topics & how people search for them at our page here.
  • Present this content in the formats people like: draft them as FAQs with questions and answers. Make them into step-by-step guides of actions to take. Lay out a menu of options. See more on how to present your content well.

Step 2: Improve your Technical Performance

Your website’s technical performance will affect if people can use their site — or if Google even shows it to them. If your site is slow, buggy, or mobile-unfriendly, then many people will never visit it — or bounce away from it if they do click on it.

  • Check your site’s current technical performance by using one of the automated checkup tools to scan your site for problems.
  • Work with your developers to deal with any of the problems that the tools flag as slowing you down, making it hard for people to use your site, or possibly loading errors.

Step 3: Get Search Engine Optimized

When someone searches for legal help in your jurisdiction, do they see your website? Is it on the first page of the Google results, or even in the first slot? Or is it buried a few pages deep in the results pages, where few people will ever find it? There are some concrete things you can do to increase your site’s search rank.

Step 4: Improve your Web Design

Make sure it’s very easy for people to navigate and understand your website. That means a focus on visual & interaction design on your page.

Join our Cohort & Slack Network

We host a Slack and Legal Help Online cohort that coordinates legal help administrators & justice technologists. Join us!

Fill in the form to tell us about yourself, and we’ll invite you to join our meetings & network. We are happy to support you in making an excellent legal help website.

Use the Dashboard to build a better legal help website

How Does Your Website Rank?

Visit our traffic & technical quality rankings of US legal help websites to find how your site compares.

Do a 4-Track Website Checkup

Audit your site to see what you can improve on search rank, tech, design, and content.

Re-orient Your Content around Users

Update your content to match what people are searching for, and how they like to find help.

Fix Technical Problems

Improve how fast, bug-free, and responsive your website is.

Improve Your Discoverability

Get your website to rank higher on search engines, and for more people to find it.

Link to Other Legal Help Sites

Link to other jurisdictions’ help pages for visitors who don’t belong on your site, and also increase your site rank through a backlink strategy.

Our group at Stanford Legal Design Lab carries out research to evaluate the state of legal help online.

This includes evaluating how search engines perform in connecting people with legal help. It also includes the evaluation of legal help websites.

We have developed a high-level rubric with criteria for evaluating the quality of legal help websites.

The criteria we use to evaluate “what works” in legal help website includes the following 3-category rubric. This rubric should drive toward better websites that build people’s legal capability, promotes high quality engagement and choice in the justice system, and allows people to participate with little burden or cost to them.

1. Jurisdiction-correct, Actionable, Local information

A legal help website should give a person information that they can rely upon to take action, find services, and start resolving their problem.

This information should not be for another jurisdiction, and thus irrelevant or harmful to the person.

It should not be out-of-date, with legal procedures, forms, rights, or services that would be incorrect to rely upon.

Some news reports have called out examples of legal misinformation online, that might take the form of scams or conspiracy theories.

2.  Specific, detailed, actionable information about rights, process, and services

A website should give a person specific actions they can take to address their problem.

Generic information that describes a problem or legal options at a high level may have some use in establishing a person’s basic understanding of the law.

But far more valuable is a website that tells them groups that they can call for help, local courts and authorities that they can visit to get started on filings or hearings, or local procedures to follow.

The more specific and local the information is, the more it can help a person take quick action to respond to the problem.

Ideally, this high-quality information will build a person’s legal capability. The website should help them understand their problem, form a strategy, take action, and feel empowered. It should make them more likely to participate in the legal process, rather than disengage with it. Read more about legal capability here, to understand this key outcome.

3. Minimal burden or cost on a person to access information about rights, process, and services.

A website should be easy for a person to use, to find the key information they need to begin resolving their issue.

It should have minimal distractions, barriers, and costs that could prevent them from using the site’s information. Ideally, a person should not have to give up data, money, or privacy in order to know their legal rights, procedures, paperwork, and services to help them with their problem.
Read more about administrative burden here, to understand more about this metric that governments use to measure the usability of their public-facing services.

Join our Legal Help Online Cohort

Apply to join our Legal Help Online Cohort to get technical assistance and a supportive community in making your legal help website better & show up higher on search engines.