Access to Justice Through Better Google Search Results

Thanks to Clio’s, Joshua Lenon, for pointing me to this article titled, Redesigning Google Search for access to justice.

access_to_justice

In case you haven’t heard, the access to justice movement is big. In fact, there are 111,000,000 results. The movement’s mission is to help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status.

I can’t really address the movement, but the Redesigning article suggests an “easy” way Google could help the access movement. Here’s the premise of the article:

One easy Google Search redesign: when a user searches for legal help, the search results page could display a “Priority-Box” highlighting public, trustworthy legal resources to the user. Instead of ads for commercial services or a grab-bag of website listings, Google could direct the user to official government sites, court-provided documents, legal aid group contacts, and other resources that are provided by public organizations which have trustworthy information & are not trying to profit off of the user’s legal problem.

The problem, the post explains, is that Google prioritizes the search results by emphasizing ads over information.

None of these Search Results pages  are by-definition bad for our user, but they are not ideal. The user has asked a question, and Google Search responds with a crowded & directionless menu of possible options.

. . .

A savvy user can browse through the results, maybe even clicking past the first page to the 2nd and 3rd pages of results.  They can check for the website’s reliability by looking for markers, like a web address that ends in ‘.gov’ or an apparent affiliation with the Courts or Government Agency that likely is responsible for the legal process in question.

What do you think? Will changing Google’s search results change the way folks access justice? Can Google eliminate ads to help the public with legal issues? Or is there just too much money in ads?

2 Responses to Access to Justice Through Better Google Search Results

  1. I think it depends. If someone is searching for Richmond traffic court then the first result should be exactly that but if they are searching for Richmond traffic ticket commercial listings are appropriate.

    • I think the point of this is that Google should recognize the difference between “Richmond traffic court” and “how do I handle a traffic ticket.” But I think Google’s already doing that, and the author’s results show that. The author wants to eliminate ads from the equation so that someone’s not going to a paid site, versus a “helpful” one.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.