Last week I left the Ministry of Justice. I spent 1 year and 7 months according to LinkedIn’s calculations there trying to do my bit for humanity as a designer. A lot of times it didn’t seem like this was happening. A lot of times it seemed like the policy wonks and the wannabe politicians (why this person exists is beyond me) were racing ahead to the bottom while a comparatively pitiful number of good minded or otherwise idealistic “jeans-wearing digital hipsters with post-it notes” were treading water. This is what it was like for the most of the time. But despite all this, we made things happen. We released software. That’s right, we made actual, working software. Not a PDF, not a mediocre, hard to understand film, and not social media conjecture.
An actual thing I designed not only saw the light of day, but, gasp, was used by actual people - and a decent amount of them to boot. The thing myself and a ragtag band of “strong personalities” (as we were called by those who obviously can’t take a joke or can’t stand people who don’t like faffing about) released 6 months ago so far has been taking roughly 20,000 cases per month of poor people getting legal help, of which so far 1 million Great British Pounds of legal types helping the poor people were billed.
Having spent almost the past 18 years of my life designing things that never see the light of day, this is a pretty damn big deal, and one I struggled to remind myself a lot of times. On top of that, its all out there, and here and here for anyone to use in the world, that is assuming you have an intimate knowledge of Python and want to build yourself a case handling type system. But apparently the UK Land Registry and potentially the government of New South Wales, Australia are going to use bits and pieces of it, so there.
So last week, we showed it to the big wigs and there were smiles and claps all around and then as well as for me somehow as that was my last day. If I had made some sort of speech, which maybe I should have, I would have said that we made a thing that is somehow making people's lives better and that was thanks enough. This is no bullshit, it really is thanks enough. I can count on one hand how many things I’ve worked on that have ever been used by real people and have actually helped them in their lives.
Thanks Tom, Alex, Dom, Ravi, Marco, Andy, Keiran, Peter, Eddie and all the rest.