Transforming Public Defense

Transforming Public Defense: Designing a Comprehensive Digital Platform for the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services



What if we could build a comprehensive digital platform to replace an outdated manual legacy system? And what would it take to create one that is intuitive and seamless to use?


Our mission was: 

  • To serve the citizens better by giving them better access to a wider range of public defenders and experts.
  • To serve the court experts (such as social workers, psychologists, forensic specialists) better by making them more available for the opportunities
  • To serve the state government staff better by keeping all that data up to date in one place and easily accessible.


Here’s how we used a Citizen Experience Design approach in collaboration with the State of Massachusetts:


  • Worked with the state’s decision makers to identify ways to bring greater simplicity into the legal and administrative processes.
  • Engaged (and co-designed with) public defenders and experts across different specialities, diverse public service tenures to make sure our solution addressed their challenges.
  • Used persuasive design techniques to make a complex onboarding process engaging and to accelerate task completion. 
  • Simplified processes and prioritized accessibility to create an intuitive and user-friendly design system while minimizing bureaucratic obstacles.

This is what design for impact looks like!

These were cornerstones in our partnership with Arbola and the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) of the State of Massachusetts – to bring to life a new state platform that would marry both design and technology using a Citizen Experience Design approach.




  • Redesign, modernization, and digitization of more than 75% of the admin process
  • Improved quality of relationships between public defense vendors and the state
  • Overall reduction of customer service inquiries



Interested in learning more about navigating the messiness of impact design? Check out our conversation with Robert Fabricant on Project Inclusion. Subscribe to the podcast for other inspiring conversations.