Why Design Thinking helps lawyers in their working day
Design thinking is a methodology that is of increasing interest to more and more legal professionals, attracted to it in many cases, by the effect that those of us who have discovered this discipline, practice it and achieve surprising results thanks to it, for example, identify in a single morning meeting with the members of the legal department of a large company, all the services they provide to their organisation, design all the processes that are followed to provide them and redesign them taking into account the "pain points", i.e. tasks where problems, difficulties, complaints, etc. are generated. As well as helping a law firm, which was on its third marketing consultancy in less than two years, also in a single morning, to identify the services that really make money and design a meaningful business strategy.
In this article I explain what it consists of, what it is being used for and highlight the interest of its application to an area that has not been talked about until now and which seems to me to be one of the most interesting for legal professionals, the so-called "Design Your Life", a methodology designed by professors at Stanford University to help people design their career paths.
2. What is Legal Design Thinking?
3. And what is it being used for?
4. Design Your Life: the application of Design Thinking to the field of personal development.
Legal Design Thinking is a discipline that would be framed within heuristics and whose main objective is the search for solutions to challenges, through creativity
Design Thinking as a key tool for lawyer's career development
What is Legal Design Thinking?
Today there is already a certain consensus on the name to be used to refer to the set of methodologies that help to solve legal problems, understood as those that refer to the functioning of the legal system or legal service providers, Legal Design Thinking (LDC). The word "problem" should not be understood in the traditional sense, as something negative, but in a broader sense, as a challenge or situation that can be improved through creativity. This activity is the axis around which Design Thinking is articulated.
The other main axis of the Design Thinking discipline is the client, the user, the recipient of the service, of the contract, of the rule, of the sentence. In short, Legal Design Thinking is a discipline that would be framed within heuristics and whose main objective is the search for solutions to challenges, through creativity, always putting people at the centre of the activity.
And what is it being used for?
Well, for many purposes. Let us now look at some of the uses and examples for which this methodology can be useful to jurists:
1. Starting with the most abstract, the LDC is used to reflect on the future of organisations, whether in the public or private sector: in such changing environments, the leaders of organisations in the legal sector need to analyse, reflect and define their strategic lines, involving those responsible for critical areas: people management, knowledge, technology, communication, etc. Through LDT and several of its tools, this task can be facilitated by supporting organisations to better understand and define their future. Examples of the use of Design Thinking by public sector organisations are the Lab of the National School of the Judiciary (ENJ) of the Dominican Republic, for which one of its three pillars is user-centred design.
2. It is also being used in the field of personal and professional development for the design of life projects. This modality, which I will discuss in more detail in the following section, is also the result of the work of Stanford professors who have christened it Desing Your Life.
3. It is also being used to bring new products or services to life: a methodology that helps to co-create, integrating specialists from different disciplines, deepening the knowledge of the client and their needs and exploring different paths, testing them and making them visible, makes it possible to define any new product or service with a much greater probability of success.
4. It is also used to solve organisational problems, such as, for example, changes affecting work teams, job definition and task allocation, etc.
5. One of the clearest use cases is to support the development of computer applications: websites, apps, etc.
6. And finally, another of the use cases that most motivates us to think that LDC can be a catalyst for the change that society is asking of lawyers is its application to improving the experience of users and customers when contracting products or services. Design Thinking makes it possible to design (note that we use this term and not the usual one of drafting) pre-contracting and contracting processes capable of generating more satisfaction in the user, integrating for example technology or through the design of pre-contractual and contractual documents, which serve for much more than simply putting down on paper a series of agreements, but which also allow: identifying needs and insights of all the real "clients" of that contract (which normally are not only the signing parties).
Design Your Life: the application of Design Thinking to the field of personal development
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, both Stanford professors and authors of the bestsellers "Designing Your Life" and "Designing your Work Life", have developed a methodology based on Design Thinking that is already helping millions of people to be happier. Starting from the premises that very few people are lucky enough to have a clear vocation, that we all have several lives within us and that with the right tools and the inspiring principles of Design Thinking (co-creation, creativity, prototyping, innovation, acceptance of failure, etc.) it is easy to become designers of our own life. Both authors reject the idea that life can be "planned", in their view life can only be "designed". For them, what we need is to have skills and know how to handle tools that allow us to design it, such as story telling (telling our story), interviews (with people who can support us in carrying out our projects or who can be a model for us), stays in places where we want to live to test whether we really feel good there, etc. And so on up to twenty useful exercises that allow you to reflect and devise your life project.
At a time of transition like the one we are living, where millions of people are seeing their jobs threatened and the cultures of their organisations transformed, feel that their income is at risk and have had to change the way they work, design thinking has the power to provide us with the necessary tools to move forward and overcome redundancies, retirements or successfully cope with business restructurings.
Desing thinking as a methodology offers important advantages to those who use it, as it fosters creativity, teamwork and co-creation, the fact that it is not important to make mistakes when looking for solutions, adapting to the real needs of the service recipient (in the case of its application to the design of vital projects, to the essence of oneself). In short, a methodology to explore and practice because one is never an expert in it, but a facilitator and promoter of its use.