Smart Tools to Improve Access to Justice

Yesterday I had the pleasure of launching a new website, FineFixer.

FineFixer is a smart tool which provides people information that is reliable, understandable and personal about their fines; giving people simple solutions to take action to fix their fines.

At the time of launch, FineFixer had already helped over 4000 users and we hope to help many thousands more over the coming years.

FineFixer is part of a new era of providing automated, personalised legal help and a testament to the capacity of what we can achieve when the legal assistance sector collaborates to tackle systemic problems. Smart tools are essential to improving access to justice in Australia.

“Smart tools are essential to improving access to justice in Australia”

FineFixer grew from the prototype designed and built by Josh, Alexandra and Rebecca during the 2015 Fastrack program; during which I had the pleasure of being one of their mentors; along with others from community legal centres and legal aid.

After the program finished the Moonee Valley Legal Service spent a year trying to find a way to make FineFixer a reality. The legal industry is not known for adopting new technology quickly and we are grateful to the Victoria Law Foundation for seeing the potential of FineFixer and agreeing to take a risk with us to fund the further design and development of FineFixer.

We then found more partners to work with to take the prototype through to launch. Our excellent designers and developers PaperGiant, and a dedicated advisory group from CLCs and Legal Aid, financial counselors, the Centre for Innovative Justice, the RMIT students themselves, and the brains behind the MykiFines website.

With the support of all of these partners, PaperGiant conducted co-design workshops and began testing and iterating to develop the final product which we’re excited to launch today.

I have held the view for a long time that the legal assistance sector is best placed to innovate in the law and disrupt the way we deliver legal services.

The end goal of our work has always been to try and make our work unnecessary by effecting systemic change; so it’s only natural that we should want to leverage technology to find better ways to provide great legal help and advice.

“We must build a culture of innovation and risk taking in the legal assistance sector”

To do this, we must build a culture of innovation and risk taking in the legal assistance sector. Lawyers are not typically risk takers and our temptation is too often to rely too heavily on our own precedents, something that we have done before, something that we know works. Something that we know will only help a little.

Necessity is the mother of all invention. Well our sector and our clients are in need. Overwhelming demand for legal assistance means tech solutions are not just nice to have, but necessary to access to justice in Australia.

Our sector must be willing to take risks, innovate, and try new ways to help more people, in more places.

You can can check it out now at finefixer.org.au

Brendan Lacota
Co-founder, Onlinewillkit.com