The legal market is in transformation. Never has there been such an expectation to find more innovative approaches to the delivery of legal services. Following ‘LegalTech’ and ‘NewLaw’, Legal Design creates another opportunity to transform and re-energise the legal industry.
What is Legal Design and why do I care?
Legal Design is the application of human-centered design to the world of law, to make legal systems and services more human-centered, usable, and satisfying. The concept was brought to the forefront of my mind by Maurits Fornier, a Dutch Litigation Lawyer and Legal Design entrepreneur who presented at ZegalCon 2018. Maurits highlighted the work that he and his firm have done in applying design principles to law. Rather than the usual approach to design in law (using design thinking to innovate processes and delivery models in law), Fornier uses visuals to support and strengthen the legal narrative of a case and help draft user-centric contracts that allow for a better understanding of the core legal issues. For example, he showed how key terms of a MOU could be tied to graphics, so a business stakeholder could quickly understand the business terms and mechanics without having to closely read multiple pages of dense legal drafting (see the image, Company B.V. Term Sheet).
As a non-lawyer, Maurits’ presentation and the benefits of Legal Design stuck with me. Its usefulness only further compounded by a client comment a few weeks later. The biggest pain-point for this client (General Counsel of a large MNC) was that, when using external counsel the legal documents they receive are not presentable to their senior business partners – they are text heavy documents, stuffed with complex legal jargon that do not serve the needs of users (in most cases, non-lawyers!).
Legal Design is user-centric. It pushes us to empower and prioritise the user. If lawyers are the central ‘architect’ of legal documents, it’s crucial that we collaborate with interdisciplinary teams (designers, psychologists, technologists etc.) throughout the process to help add value through applying a human-centered approach.
The future - empathetic legal documents?!
Let me be clear, this isn’t about re-creating the wheel. Not all legal work must be re-designed with pleasing aesthetics and visuals that are easily digestible. But, the concept of Legal Design presents the industry with another opportunity to generate value in legal services rather than just manage risk. It leverages different perspectives and encourages empathy, creativity, transparency and team work – all whilst being another comprehensive way to change the industry and develop a competitive advantage through the delivery of greater client value.
In the ever-transforming legal world, service providers must be at the bleeding edge of innovation. As a non-lawyer with a passion for Legal Design (both in my capacity as a consumer and also as KorumLegal innovator) it’s great to be part of the team that provides solutions based on the needs of the client and the delivery of value. Legal Design might be part of your legal department and wider business’ value delivery needs. If it is, please get in contact! I see the Legal Design future, as bright!
Written by Matt Roberts
Matt has spent his career to date working within the legal space. Initially London based, working for a specialist boutique recruitment firm as Head of Legal, before relocating to Hong Kong in order to set up the firm’s first Asia office and further establish their presence in the APAC region. Now, as part of our HQ function, Matt utilises his extensive EMEA and APAC legal market knowledge to help build the KorumLegal brand, strengthen our existing client and consultant relationships and promote KorumLegal’s capabilities to the market.