Is access to justice harder to find than alien life?
Spare a couple of minutes and listen to this insightful presentation by Laura Quinn on how the Drake Formula could be applied to the access-to-justice sector.
Devised by the astrophysicist Frank Drake in 1961, the Drake formula was initially meant to quantify the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy by using seven variables. But what could all of this have to do with access-to-justice projects?
The Florida Justice Technology Centre (FJTC) has the answer. Partnering with organisations nationwide (Legal Services Corporation, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System) and relying on support from Pew, RAND, and the Harvard A2J Lab, the FJTC reinvented the Drake Formula to measure and benchmark online access-to-justice projects using five variables:
- The number of people targeted by a certain project
- The number of people able to use it
- The number of those who actually found it
- The number of those who received benefits from it
- The number of people who had positive outcomes
Using these variables the formula can come up with a fairly accurate prediction as to the potential usefulness and popularity of an access-to-justice project.
It seems to be equally hard to estimate both the number of alien forms of life and the effectiveness of access-to-justice services. Nonetheless, conceptual tools like the Drake Formula can help us build a framework that informs our research and educates our guesses.
You can watch the full presentation of their findings here.