Legal Design as a field of knowledge was born only 5 years ago at Stanford University as a result of the systematic application of the “Design Thinking Method” to the legal field. This form of design integrates the planning and organization of people, structures, communication channels and all other aspects that make up a service in order to improve the quality of the interaction between the service provider and the users.
The “Design Thinking Method” can lead the lawyer to a human-centered solution within a process with tools, which are easy to understand (“Mind Maps”, “Persona Profiles”, “Value Map” or “Frame Storyboard”).
There are two key features of Legal Design that distinguish it from other legal innovation disciplines:
1) The focus on the user. User experience is an aspect that is rarely considered when tackling a legal problem. Here, the entire creation process is geared towards meeting the needs of the end-user. Therefor the first step is always to focus on the question: “Who is the user of the end result and what is the status quo?” Users can e.g. be the client or the layperson while they use an agreement or a consultation. The “Design Thinking Method” can therefore be used to make the communication between the lawyer and the client easier by implementing new visual documents. But not only these persons can be the “user” of a product or service – also employees in a Law firm are users of a workflow and can benefit from a change throughout a “Design Thinking Process”. Furthermore, “users” can be the citizens while using the court proceedings. Legal Design can contribute to a better access to Justice by implementing modern technologies to make the legal process cheaper and more efficient. In this regard, “remote courts” gain in importance in these years.
2) The rapid construction of prototypes that are exposed to use and interaction with real users. Feedback from these early interactions is used to develop new and improved prototypes, so that with each iteration the idea is refined and the final product or service is significantly improved.
In total, all stakeholders of the legal industry – clients, lawyers, the layman and the society – can benefit from Legal Design.