Innovations for Clients: Refining the New LawHelpMN with Focus Group Feedback from Community Partners


by Emily Good, Legal Projects Manager

As State Support continues its work on the redesign project, the development of the site’s new legal triage function remains a high priority. This new tool – a guided questionnaire designed to offer each user a tailored set of self-help materials and customized referrals for legal help – will be further refined this fall. In September and October, a professional consultant will conduct focus groups with the goal of testing the new screening tool with trusted intermediaries from the community. This focus group work is being funded by the National Center for State Courts to support implementation of the Minnesota Justice for All Strategic Action Plan

Trusted intermediaries – such as social workers, public librarians, and faith-based community members and leaders –  are gateways to legal information and services for the communities they serve. Many people with a legal issue do not identify their problem as legal in nature, and therefore do not reach out for legal help or resources. This is precisely why proactively engaging with organizations and community resources where people do seek help is an important way to identify and connect them with the legal help they need.

The upcoming community focus groups will consist of two parts. The first is a walk-through of the new screening tool, asking the user (a trusted intermediary) for their feedback on usefulness and any confusing pieces. The second is a discussion in which users talk about how this tool could be used in their work. One goal of the focus groups is to understand how the tool can be used in community work and what changes would make it more useful to our trusted intermediaries. A second goal is to develop outreach strategies to increase awareness of the newly redesigned LawHelpMN, including the screening tool, so that community partners can then connect people in need to legal information and services.

The focus groups will engage volunteers in the development of user feedback tools, and to work as observer-interviewers during the sessions. Volunteers will get training in design thinking in the legal context, developing stakeholder personas, and user feedback tools generally. Faegre Baker Daniels has provided the space for the training, as they have a commitment to improving access to justice and a contingent of lawyers who have done work in design thinking. If you are interested in attending the training on Friday, September 14th from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in Minneapolis, please contact Melissa Moss at by Wednesday, September 12th.