New beginnings in technology for justice

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“In three months, my ex partner and I developed a divorce and separation plan that we both felt comfortable with. We really cooperated when drafting it, and got help from the tailored model solutions and self-help tools. It may sound weird, but we felt proud of this accomplishment. When we submitted it to the lawyer for review, she said that the plan was well-balanced and fair. Then she told us that she would have to rewrite everything again, translating it into difficult legal language because otherwise the judge would not understand it.” These are the words of one of the users of the Rechtwijzer Divorce Platform, whom we will call “Rachel”.

Rachel’s experience shows that our platform contributes to empowering people when they have to cope with a tough situation in their lives. It also shows how full innovation in the justice sector requires joint effort, from various angles. Making this work is not just about great justice technology, but also about innovative legal professionals with lean minds and a sense that they can bring more value to clients.

When we ask our users about their experiences during our ongoing user satisfaction surveys, they consistently rate the platform 8 out of 10. Two months is the average time it takes to come to a first draft that is ready for review. By then, they have spent less than 400 euro on average to complete their divorce and separation plan.

Currently, the Rechtwijzer Divorce Platform only is available to people like Rachel who live in The Netherlands. Next month, a trial in England starts and in a few months people in British Columbia can use it as well. Development of new modules for debts and landlord-tenant problems are also lined up. In the meantime, the interface and process flows get better every day, the number of support tools continues to increase, and our service providers develop more effective online interventions, almost on a daily basis.

The Rechtwijzer team is growing, so we can keep up this high pace of innovation. Talented new colleagues continue to join our team. They work with some of the best software engineers and user experience designers. We recently built the organisational structure behind Rechtwijzer that helps us with bringing additional resources and staff, which I am honoured to lead.

HiiL Innovating Justice thus fully commits to developments like Rechtwijzer that can make the difference between a good and a bad justice process. Between having the experience of a fair procedure that services your situation, and having the experience of completely losing control and maybe even feeling excluded. Elon Musk, one of the great innovators of our time and founder of PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, famously said that “any product that needs a manual is broken.” This is true for justice processes as well. Our team continues its work to empower people, so they can work their way to justice, also without thorough understanding of legal codes, rules of procedure, large bodies of case law and the other many manuals of the justice system.

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