Plea Bargaining Institute

A digital platform to support the growth of a national movement to curb abusive plea bargaining practices and restore balance to the US criminal justice system


By providing an evidence base that can be used by those working in the field, the tool will help litigators, academics, campaigners and others identify innovative ways to expose and address coercive plea practices, and will in turn encourage new research and strategic litigation by network members. 

Created in partnership by The National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers, Fair Trials and Professor Lucian Devlin, the Plea Bargaining Institute (PBI) will be a global intellectual home for researchers, practitioners and policy advocates to share knowledge and promote collaboration related to plea bargaining and its role in criminal legal system processes. 


Branded for clarity 

We were tasked with first creating the PBI brand. The identity is clean, simple and authoritative. Its professional, pared back nature sees brand typography able to lead, bringing the voice of the PBI and its calls to action to the fore. 


Resource Hub as the Heart of the Experience

The online tool will house a compendium of reports and summaries of developments in case law from local and state courts in the US and domestic and international research on plea bargaining. 

Designed to help the PBI’s primary audiences understand what research is available to them, either for free or as paid articles, the hub simplifies user access to the materials, through clean, clear navigational structure and employment of enhanced search. 

The site’s search functionality is central to the user experience. Three distinct search types cater to users’ behaviors and needs:

  • Instant Search and Intelligent Filtering: The resource hub employs instant search (React and Algolia Instant Search) with intelligent filtering, allowing users to filter results by categories.
  • Global Search with Autocomplete: Available across the entire site, this search utilizes Algolia Autocomplete, instantly displaying results as users begin typing.
  • On-Page Search with Query Suggestions: The homepage features an on-page search area with query suggestions drawn from frequently used searches. The dynamic suggestion database continually adapts based on user behavior, ensuring highly relevant and modern search results.

Defining the right design and technical solution

We designed templates that are intuitive and flexible, and focused as much attention on the structure and user experience of the back end as we did the front end, ensuring ease-of-use for the PBI team. 

We integrated email marketing, automating audience event tracking and subscriber list creation. 

Structured data was incorporated for search engine optimization, and the website is hosted on an enhanced server for optimal performance and security. The result is a best-practice, bespoke design and build that will evolve and adapt along with PBI as it grows. 

The Plea Bargaining Institute’s knowledge-sharing and engagement platform showcases the power of a user-centric approach, innovative features, and technical excellence. With its clarity, flexibility, and user-friendliness, PBI is well-positioned to grow its reach and the uptake of the materials. This project exemplifies the potential of digital platforms to bring audiences together for a specific cause, and provide them with specialist information and material that empowers them to be able to make a bigger difference.

Design Culture did a wonderful job bringing our vision to life and were a pleasure to work with throughout the process. From the beginning of the process through to the launch of the website, the team at Design Culture was professional and receptive to our needs. The final product looks amazing and has received a strong positive response from the leadership of the Plea Bargaining Institute and early users.

Lucian E. Dervan Founding Director Plea Bargaining Institute