The Future of The Law, By Design

If you haven’t noticed the world is chang­ing. Near­ly all aspects of our lives, includ­ing our work­ing envi­ron­ments, are being affect­ed; some would say enriched, by new ways of think­ing and behav­ing. The old ways of doing things are dis­in­te­grat­ing as a new indus­tri­al age bears down upon us. As Gand­hi said it’s time for us all to: be the change you want to see in the world’. And that includes the legal profession.

Dri­ving these changes are tech­nol­o­gy, new com­mu­ni­ca­tions chan­nels and a slew of cre­ative answers to what were com­plex issues. These mod­ern approach­es use tech­niques that may have been seen as too out­ré in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry but are now the way forward.

In the dusty world of The Law, these pio­neer­ing ideas are known as Legal Design. And those legal firms that embrace the fun­da­men­tal dis­ci­plines of this devel­op­ing phi­los­o­phy are the ones most like­ly to find favour as the pace of indus­tri­al change march­es on.

What Is Legal Design?

Legal Design is all about apply­ing the prin­ci­ples of design think­ing with the knowl­edge and con­tent of the legal pro­fes­sion. By com­bin­ing these ideas, you can see the way legal ser­vices will be deliv­ered in the future. Cru­cial­ly, Legal Design ensures that users of the sec­tor get a much more coher­ent and relat­able ser­vice irre­spec­tive of which legal exper­tise they are using.

Let’s look at some of the core ideas that make up Legal Design and how they can be used to trans­form any for­ward-think­ing legal prac­tice. There are sev­en core principles:

Think­ing Differently

This con­cept under­pins the whole Legal Design approach. It is made up of four stages that ensure a prob­lem or issue is ful­ly explored before a solu­tion is agreed. The Dis­cov­ery and Define steps look for the insights and infor­ma­tion required to address the problem.

The Devel­op and Deliv­er phas­es use this infor­ma­tion to gen­er­ate ideas and decide on the best approach. As the name sug­gests, it’s an iter­a­tive process of using diver­gent then con­ver­gent think­ing to ensure we explore all pos­si­ble strate­gies and that broad insight helps to inform the best solution.

It’s a world away from the way the legal pro­fes­sion cur­rent­ly diag­noses solu­tions based on black and white legal con­cepts and we know best’ thinking.

User Cen­tric­i­ty And Empathy

This ele­ment is about tak­ing an out­side-in approach. We put our­selves in the shoes of the client as we do our work. It’s an empa­thet­ic view­point that seeks to under­stand how the legal process is impact­ing clients. By its nature, this aspect of Legal Design means adjust­ing our lan­guage and behav­iours to align more close­ly with a client’s per­spec­tive. In short, it’s about act­ing like think­ing, feel­ing human beings.

Adopt A Prob­lem Led Focus

John Dewey famous­ly wrote: a prob­lem well put is half solved.” It’s a great way to describe this ele­ment of the Legal Design process. It’s an approach right out of the cre­ative thinker’s hand­book. It’s cru­cial to under­stand the prob­lem before com­mit­ting to a solu­tion. It means tak­ing a con­sid­ered and holis­tic approach to under­stand­ing the root caus­es of an issue. In turn, this could very well lead to a rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent out­come. Looked at that way, tak­ing a prob­lem-dri­ven approach is always time well spent.

Build A Mul­ti-Skilled Team

The abil­i­ty to apply Legal Design prin­ci­ples depends on hav­ing a mul­ti-skilled team work­ing togeth­er. Nat­u­ral­ly, this includes legal exper­tise but may also include ele­ments of busi­ness psy­chol­o­gy, tech­nol­o­gy, cre­ative design and HR. Most impor­tant­ly, one team mem­ber should rep­re­sent the end-user to ensure the solu­tion will work in practice.

Visu­alise Everything

Pic­tures speak loud­er than words it’s said. And in Legal Design, the use of high­ly visu­al media to run the process and present the solu­tion is con­sid­ered essen­tial to suc­cess. This means the use of flow­charts, organograms, info­graph­ics and mindmaps. Not only do these tech­niques make the process eas­i­er to con­duct, but they also make it much eas­i­er to com­mu­ni­cate the outcomes.

Use Plain Langauge

This is the need for the legal pro­fes­sion to improve the way it com­mu­ni­cates in writ­ing. While the let­ter of the law is often con­vo­lut­ed, there’s an urgent need to present it in a way the aver­age client can eas­i­ly under­stand. Ordi­nary peo­ple don’t under­stand terms like torts’, con­veyanc­ing’, pro bono’ or pur­suant’. Legal Design prin­ci­ples we must explain these con­cepts in much sim­pler terms, and it’s not before time.

Embrace Tech­nol­o­gy

It would seem inap­pro­pri­ate for an inno­v­a­tive approach like Legal Design not to embrace some form of tech­nol­o­gy. Indeed the use of a tech’ solu­tion may be the log­i­cal and desired out­come of the design process. But even if the result isn’t always a ground­break­ing new app, it could mean adopt­ing exist­ing main­stream solu­tions. How about com­mu­ni­cat­ing with clients by What­sApp or using Slack to run a legal project?

Cre­ate Desir­able Outcomes

Most who grasp these prin­ci­ples will see they can only lead to good things if adopt­ed and applied assid­u­ous­ly. The approach­es will mean sim­per, bet­ter writ­ten legal doc­u­ments that are no less impactive but are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more engaging.

Legal Design will help to demys­ti­fy the legal sec­tor. The prin­ci­ples will aid in demon­strat­ing the added-val­ue and con­tri­bu­tions that the legal pro­fes­sion offers to soci­ety. And once wide­ly adopt­ed, these meth­ods will ensure the behav­iours, prac­tices and impact of legal experts will be enhanced to the ben­e­fit of the whole pro­fes­sion. Per­haps most impor­tant is that clients will be hap­pi­er and gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of not only their legal issues but the law in general.

That’s plen­ty of rea­sons why Legal Design if broad­ly adopt­ed can only be a good thing both for the legal sec­tor and those who rely on it.

Design Your Future

Lex­So­lu­tions are experts in the devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of Legal Design prin­ci­ples for a range of legal com­pa­nies and can help you to quick­ly apply these ideas to help your clients and legal business.

For a dis­cus­sion on how the Lex­So­lu­tions team help you to reap the ben­e­fits of Legal Design, con­tact us direct­ly at chris@​lexsolutions.​com or manu@​lexsolutions.​com or call 0203 7451574.

Glen carrie t F0 PZC1 M Fq E unsplash

Further reading