The Legal Profession Board of Tasmania is the state’s ombudsman for the legal industry. As with watchdog organisations in any industry, they have to represent both sides – taking complaints from frustrated clients while ensuring lawyers receive impartial treatment.

That need to present a transparent and unbiased appearance was a key factor in our approach to the function and design of the new LPBT website. Their message of openness and clarity of process is simple, and we wanted to set up a design framework that supported that.

Key to the success of the site was getting the complaints process right. The existing process was to download a multi-page PDF, print it out, fill it in, and either post it or scan and email it to LPBT. Their conversion rates in this process were low, with few initial enquiries turning into written complaints that could be investigated.

We worked closely with LPBT to refine and simplify the complaints process. Starting with a review of best practice websites in the regulatory industry, we looked at ways to minimise the feeling of beaurocracy and present a clear way for users to complete a task. Our approach was to focus on getting people to submit the minimum amount of information that was needed to start the process, knowing that more information could be gathered during an investigation.

The result is a ten-question form that can be quickly filled in. We broke the form down into three stages (contact details, lawyer details, complaint) to give context to the questions and clearly set expectations for how much effort is needed to fill it in.

Another positive outcome from this project was moving the LPBT’s decision register of upheld complaints from a difficult-to-find PDF to a fully searchable database. This not only affirms the board’s commitment to transparency, but from a usability and accessibility perspective makes researching past decisions a much easier process.

The result is a vastly improved website in terms of usability and design which will help LPBT become more a more visible and approachable organisation into the future.

Making a legal complaint about a lawyer can be a daunting prospect, especially when faced with a lengthy and at times bureaucratic process.