Improving people’s access to justice through better knowledge sharing

Friday, October 15th 2021

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In this case study, we explain how our choice of digital platform for sharing knowledge among LCN and member Law Centres helps make for better services to the public down the line.

"It's a fantastic resource for Law Centres, providing a broad range of advice, resources and a great info exchange… I never had anything like that while working in private practice. Everything is there!"

For over fifty years, Law Centres in the UK have been broadening access to justice, especially among disadvantaged communities. Legal services have traditionally been the preserve of those who were better off. Law Centres, as non-profit law practices, have pioneered bringing legal services to the local neighbourhood and high street. There they provide legal advice and representation to people in need. to help them save their homes, keep their jobs and protect their families. 

The web of 42 local Law Centres across the UK is supported by a national membership body, the Law Centres Network (LCN). It exists to help set up new Law Centres and services and to champion Law Centres and advocate for better support for their clients. Fostering best practice, the Network has also been investing in digital platforms to support better knowledge sharing, uptake of best practice and collaboration.  

The mission 

The Network wanted an adaptable content platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing to enhance local Law Centres’ work. The platform needed to cater for the professional needs of diverse practitioner groups: lawyers, managers, triage workers and administrators. It also needed to connect them to the Network and to one another, enabling interaction and involvement while remaining simple to use and maintain. Of course, the platform also needed to integrate seamlessly with other systems that the Network was already using.  

Sustainability, flexibility and accessibility 

The Network researched several off-the-shelf community platforms, which it found  either too costly over the long term (subscription-based), too inflexible on permission levels required or simply inadequate for its needs. The team then started exploring headless content management and found Contentful to be the best in class. Content editors were able to use it easily and with little prior training and have started to publish content right away. They were impressed with how, regardless of source, content looked and felt consistent. Contentful also enabled the team to seamlessly connect with other systems and has reduced content duplication. An event posted on Eventbrite, for example, is then fed directly into Contentful, which in turn powers our internal members section as well as our external facing website.  

Helping members help more people 

The flexibility of Contentful allows the Network to continue to adapt the interface designs as it learns what works better with its members and what they ask for. Members have also commented on how the Law Centres Platform had helped them feel part of a wider community as well as more in control, through their access to the knowledge resources that help reduce their sense of uncertainly and stress levels.  Given the success of the Platform, the Network plans to extend its use of Contentful for developing its main website, spinning off new microsites using Compose when new digital services are needed. 

If you would like to talk to our digital team in greater detail about our experience, please contact Emily.