University of Denver

Listen > Learn > Lead

A Guide to Improving Court Services through User-Centered Design
Director of Special Projects
Senior Legal Assistant
Senior Research Analyst

The tech industry has long known something that courts are just beginning to discover: If you want to build a better mousetrap, you need understand the user experience directly from those who use the mousetrap. Courts around the country are beginning to understand this truism and engage their users—many of whom are without a lawyer—in process reform.

Self-represented litigants are the experts when it comes to identifying problems and tension points that they experience in the court process. System insiders and legal experts can theorize about the various issues that self-represented litigants face, based on their observations of and interactions with these individuals, but self-represented litigants are truly best positioned to describe their experiences. It is important, then, for courts to understand how to solicit their opinions and experiences in a meaningful way.

Listen > Learn > Lead: A Guide to Improving Court Services through User-Centered Design provides a practical “how to” guide for developing user-centered reforms through interactive design sprints. The guide offers a foundational understanding for using design sprints as a vehicle for engaging users and rapidly testing proposed solutions. The approach presented in Listen > Learn > Lead was refined through multiple design sprints held across the country in 2018 as part of the Court Compass project. While these design sprints were focused on divorce and separation cases, the guidance in Listen > Learn > Lead is applicable to all kinds of civil and family case types, and the processes and tools in the guide can be applied by broader justice system stakeholders, as well as court systems.