Legal Help Online Dashboard

How is your court, legal aid, or law help portal performing? Use the Legal Help Online Dashboard to review and improve your legal help 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.

Use the Legal Help Online Dashboard to rank your website. How is your site doing on the 4 key areas: Discovery, Tech, Content, and Design?

Use our rankings to understand how you are doing.

Then use our guides to improve on all 4 areas, and serve the public better.

Join our Legal Help Online Cohort

We host a Legal Help Online Cohort that coordinates legal help administrators & justice technologists.

The Cohort meets monthly & has an ongoing Slack group to share best practices, learn of new innovations, and build a cross-jurisdiction community

Join us! We are happy to support you in making an excellent legal help website.

You will get technical assistance and a supportive community in making your legal help website better & show up higher on search engines.

Guides to Make Your Legal Help Website Better

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.

Discovery & Rank Guide

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

Use SEO, schema markup, keywords, and backlinks to make sure more people can find your website.

Tech Performance Guide

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

Review our audit of legal help websites’ tech performance to find how you can speed up & clean up your site.

User-Friendly Design Guide

Design your site to be engaging, trustworthy, accessible, and clear for the people you’re trying to serve.

Use our guides to improve your site’s layout, presentation, usability, and engagement.

Good Content Guide

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

Follow our guides to the content you should be covering, and the best formats to present in in.

Explore 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 the local population with legal needs.

Legal Needs Online

What are the most common legal problems that people ask for help with online? We are gathering recent data on Reddit & online legal clinic data to see the most common issues that people have.

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

Website Redesign Report: ABA Free Legal Answers

This report is from our student group in the Spring 2023 class 806y, Justice By Design. American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers: User Experiences and Recommendations  by Sonya Googins, Justin Iannacone, Kelsea Jeon, Shannon Lee, Ana Ribadeneira, Kevin Wang, June 9, 2023 Table of ContentsIntroductionOverview: User Experience with FLA Touchpoint: Arriving on the Home PageUpdated Home Page Cover…

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Virginia’s Eviction Legal Helpline website review and strategy

This report is by a team of Stanford University students in the Spring 2023 Justice By Design class. The student team was Gabrielle Braxton, Shirley Frame, Whit Froehlich, and Lavi Sundar. The students conducted a design review and user interviews in partnership with the Eviction Legal Helpline team. The goal of the class was to…

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Backlink Strategy for Legal Help Websites

Who links to your legal help website? The more other websites that link to you — especially government or educational ones — the higher your website will climb on search results. This is called a ‘backlink’ strategy. Search engines look to the web of who is linking to who to determine which sites are valuable,…

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Designing an Eviction Help court website

Our team at Stanford Legal Design Lab collaborated with a court, help center team, and community stakeholders in Cincinnati to build an eviction help webpage. In this video, you can see a walkthrough of the choices we made to make the site as successful as possible in being discoverable, engaging, and usable to tenants and…

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Strategies for better language access in legal help

Margaret Hagan, May 13, 2022 How can more legal help providers get more of their information & guidance into more languages? There is a giant language access problem in legal services. So many people who need help have issues with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Ideally, people with LEP would have equal access to legal help…

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Administrative Burdens & Citizen Experience Design

Margaret Hagan, Jun 28, 2021 How can we create government programs that people actually can use? I have been working with my Legal Design Lab and the National League of Cities to improve people’s access to housing justice and eviction prevention resources. Especially with COVID-19 hardships, there are more renters at risk of being evicted. They’re behind…

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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.

Steps to Making a Great Legal Help Website

Step 1: Make Better Content

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

  • Use a Style Guide to make more readable, engaging and relevant content for your audience. Use this Style Guide from another legal help site, that you can adapt.
  • Update your content to match what people are searching for, and how they like to find help
  • 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.

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 User Experience 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.

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, processes, 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.