The Provincial Court of BC has been a leader among Canadian courts in its enthusiastic use of digital communications to engage with the public. It offers an active website, featuring bi-weekly “eNews” articles, and uses social media with a refreshing, conversational tone to interact with followers.
The 2017 analytics reports are now in. They show huge gains in eNews readership, continuing growth in Twitter followers, and website traffic holding steady. The last year also saw significant improvements and additions to the voluminous information on the Court’s website. This eNews highlights what’s new in the Provincial Court’s digital communications.
“With over 230,000 visitors each year, www.ProvincialCourt.bc.ca is one of the most popular legal information websites in B.C.” said Dave Nolette, Digital Program Director at Justice Education Society. Visitors can learn about the type of cases handled by the court, discover court locations and contact information, search past judgments, and get the latest news about the court. “It’s a great site with a broad range of information for the public, the legal community and the media.”
The Court’s website is constantly being updated to make its language plainer and its contents ever-more useful and user-friendly. In the past year, the Court has:
The Court’s website analytics for 2017 show:
The Court published eNews on its website weekly until October 2017 and bi-weekly thereafter. The articles contain news about Court innovation, judicial officers’ work and activities, BC justice system resources, and explanations of Court procedures.
The five most popular articles last year were:
#1 Important changes to Small Claims Court 20/03/2017
#2 BC Provincial Court adopts Support Guidelines 11/04/2017
#3 Canada's 1st online application system for judicial appointments 05/09/2017
#4 Mother and daughter judges 07/02/2017
#5 Judge's appointment makes news around the world 24/01/2017
eNews earned 35,928 page views in 2017 – an increase of 60.43% over 2016 – and a healthy readership for a Canadian trial court.
The Court’s Twitter followers continued to increase steadily – 2017 saw a 48% increase to 1191. Not large in the Twitter universe, but significant for a provincial trial court.
In April 2017 the Court held its second live Twitter Town Hall, #AskChiefJudge, with Chief Judge Crabtree issuing 138 responses to 176 tweets (77 questions and 69 comments). The event prompted David Biilinsky, a legal tech writer and practice management consultant, to write:
SLAW, Canada's Online Legal Magazine, 2017/03/29
Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree said,
Other courts have taken notice of the BC Provincial Court’s initiatives. In 2017 Canadian administrative tribunals and courts at all levels consulted the Court’s Digital Communications Co-ordinator, Judge Ann Rounthwaite (retired), and the Chief Judge about their use of social media and eNews bulletins. Tweeting that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, the Nova Scotia Courts announced a Law Day Twitter Town Hall, #AskaNSJudge, last spring.
The Provincial Court of BC sees its online communications as part of a continuum of interaction with the public. From a judge speaking to a community group, spending lunch hour with students on a courthouse visit, or sharing perspectives in an eNews article, to the Chief Judge hosting a Twitter Town Hall, the Court is committed to transparency and meaningful engagement with the public.