Did You Know? ProJusticeMN is the Place for CLE and Event Listings

Spring is upon us, and with it a proliferation of CLE, training events, organization fundraisers and social gatherings. ProJusticeMN.org — State Support’s website for attorneys and advocates looking for resources, or interested in volunteering — has a robust calendar geared to the interests and needs of the legal aid and pro bono community.

The calendar is easy to filter by date, topic, city, organization, or whether CLE credit is offered. You can also view the calendar by month or by event listing. No matter how you approach it, the ProJusticeMN calendar provides the information and links you need to keep abreast of training opportunities and important events.

Best of all, you can submit your own CLE listings and upcoming events for inclusion on the calendar. It takes minutes to complete the submission form, and your listing will be reviewed and posted as quickly as possible. Plus, each month, State Support’s Justice News e-newsletter features links to a selection of calendar listings from ProJusticeMN. So don’t wait, submit your event, and get the word out today!

Holiday Stress? Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Can Help

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Lawyers are exposed to unique stresses on the job, including secondary trauma from clients’ cases and difficulties, as well as the general environment of an adversarial system. With the addition of personal stresses and the holiday season, it can be a tough time.

Help and resources are available through the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, which links to excellent articles about stress and related issues. Closer to home, Minnesota’s Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) provides free counseling and referrals to resources, as well as mentoring, coaching, peer support and a fund that can help with medical appointments related to mental health or substance use treatment needs. LCL is also available for continuing legal education, law school presentations, and other programs upon request.

LCL helps lawyers, judges, law students and their immediate family members with any issues that cause stress or distress. Joan Bibelhausen, LCL’s executive director, said, “If you think it will get better on its own, it won’t. Call LCL. We’ll help.”

To contact LCL, call 651-646-5590, email help@mnlcl.org, or visit their website at www.mnlcl.org.   If you would like to talk to someone immediately, counselors are available 24/7. 

Want a Training? Co-Sponsorship Model Offers More Options

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State Support has a strong history of planning and hosting our own statewide training events in collaboration with partners in the access to justice community. In the past year, we've expanded that foundational work with an exciting, additional form of collaboration: our new co-sponsorship model.

One of State Support’s strengths is leveraging technology across Minnesota, and we prioritize collaboration requests that extend a training’s reach across the state's civil legal services and pro bono communities. With our new co-sponsorship model, State Support hopes to collaborate with programs that may already be planning an event, and thereby expand its impact to reach other legal services programs. The topic you’ve identified as important to your program staff is likely something of interest to the broader community, and by working together we can utilize our expertise to help bring the training to a statewide audience.

State Support is still available for collaboration following our “traditional model,” in which you contact State Support with a training suggestion, you help us refine the topic and brainstorm speakers, and then we take it from there. Whether following our traditional model or our new co-sponsorship model, State Support’s success in offering the most meaningful and relevant trainings depends on hearing from the community about training topics you are interested in and trainers you would recommend. As always, State Support's training offerings focus on civil legal topics and skills development targeted towards legal services staff and volunteers.

The best way to let us know what trainings you’d like to see — or work with us on — is by completing our training suggestions form, which gathers all the relevant information so we can move forward faster: goo.gl/forms/KAPkAACCHs2UClK62.

Innovations for Clients: User Feedback and the New LawHelpMN.org

by Jenny Singleton, Legal/Technology Projects Manager

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State Support is excited to announce that its new centralized referral portal has been named LOON (Legal Organizations Online Network), and is in the final stages of development. LOON will enable easier referrals between legal services providers and support the busy work of intake staff. Read more about LOON in our March blog post, and about the development of an Online Triage System for LawHelpMN in our April blog post.

Most recently, our developers have begun creating the blueprints (known as “wireframes”) that will be used to guide what the public sees when visiting the newly designed LawHelpMN.org

For all aspects of the new site, State Support is focused on making sure our users’ needs are addressed. To do that, we have made a conscious effort to get user feedback and perform user testing at various stages of the site’s development. Following are some of the ways we are gathering feedback and when we will use each method. If you are interested in learning more about user testing and other methods of gathering user feedback, Usability.gov and LSNTAP both have a wealth of information on the subject.

Planning Stage: Task Analysis
Task analysis is observing users doing the tasks we hope they will use LawHelpMN to do. Early in the project, we wanted to know how intake staff might use LOON, so we observed four different intake staff as they made phone referrals. Being able to see first-hand the different processes intake staff use allowed us to provide direction to our developer as we explained what LOON must be able to do.

Wireframe Stage: Focus Groups
Focus groups are moderated group discussions designed to solicit stakeholders’ reactions to concepts. State Support has conducted three focus groups to get staff feedback at the organizations that will be using LOON. We previewed LOON’s wireframes and were able to get valuable suggestions from staff members about how the site should be structured, what information should be most prominent, and which features would make LOON most useful.

Development Stage: Card Sorting
Card sorting involves asking users to put a topic into the category in which they think it belongs. In its simplest form, card sorting involves labeling index cards with different topics and categories, and having a user physically place each topic card with the category card where they think it belongs. State Support will use this method to answer two questions. First, how do users categorize their legal issues? For example, do users think that learning how to handle a deceased parent’s estate fits under “Family Law” or under “Seniors?” With this information we’ll refine our triage questions to reflect which legal categories a person might start with when looking for answers to their legal questions. Next, we’ll use card sorting to gauge our users understanding of different legal categories, and establish the best labels based on that understanding. For example, do users understand that the “Seniors” category includes topics like Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives, or should this topic be relabeled “End of Life Planning?”

Development Stage: Usability Testing
Usability testing typically involves watching a user attempt to perform defined tasks on a website. Experts typically recommend testing about 6 participants in order to obtain sufficient information. State Support recently completed observation testing on LOON. Six participants, all of whom will be using LOON in the near future, were given scenarios and asked to perform related tasks such as finding a referral for a caller. As the participants navigated the site, our moderator asked questions to illicit more information about what worked well and what was challenging. Based on this user testing, we created a prioritized list of issues to be addressed prior to the release of LOON. We plan to carry out similar user testing with a variety of user groups as the redesign of LawHelpMN progresses.

Post-Launch: A/B Testing
A/B testing is a feedback mechanism that will allow us to compare how two options impact a user’s behavior. With this testing, each user is randomly presented with one of two versions of the website. Metrics are then collected about how each user interacts with the site to measure the effectiveness of the two versions. State Support used A/B testing to help us make decisions about the style and placement of content on our current LawHelpMN site, and we’ll likely use this method again after the redesigned LawHelpMN has launched.

Great websites must be responsive to users’ needs. Our work on LawHelpMN and LOON will not end at launch. For these sites to progressively improve and evolve to meet user needs and expectations, we must continue to gather user feedback after launch. In addition to getting that user feedback, we need to plan for the staff time and expenses associated with responding to and implementing user suggestions. With this iterative approach, we hope to create resources for the community that will meet user needs long into the future.