What is Legal Design Thinking?


Maybe you have heard and read before about Legal Design Thinking. If you already exactly know what it is, how you can use it and what it can do for you(r business), stop reading. But if you’re curious and open-minded to learn more, this post is there for you. We will explain (our vision on) Legal Design Thinking in a clear, visual and easy to understand way.


We will discuss:

  • Legal Design Thinking: the definition
  • Why using Legal Design Thinking
  • The impact of Legal Design Thinking

Legal design thinking: the definition

Legal design thinking is the cross-discipline of Legal Thinking, Design Thinking, Visual Thinking and User Experience (UX) Design. We use these disciplines to enhance the human friendliness of understanding and applying the law, since the law is meant to create order in society and make a peaceful living and working environment for everybody.

Design Thinking relates to the law since it focuses on improving quality of life with services, experiences and products, which affects human behaviour. It uses empathy and design research techniques to elicit latent needs of people, in order to create new solutions, innovations and improvements of existing products and services.

Furthermore, Visual Thinking is a method widely applied within the design thinking or service design approach. It can make complex stories more tangible and easier to grasp. In addition, UX design is used to create engaging experiences online. Widely used by companies to, for example, improve conversion in sales.

A well applied legal design approach takes into account all these aspects, and integrating the legal aspect from the beginning, taking a proactive lawyering approach (not focusing on the risks too much, but looking at the opportunities to strengthen business from a legal mindset and creating competitive advantage with strategic and legal decisions, which are designed for ethical conversion).


Why using legal design thinking

Using a mind-set, tools and methods to create empathy, Design Thinking can create the bridge between the legal (tech) world and people. Empathy forms the key! It allows lawyers to have a more effective client interview and better communication Thourought the entire case. This helps to bring across their knowledge and skills in a way that is accessible for laymen while preserving the delicate legal value.

Legal Design Thinking is not only interesting for you as a lay person, customer or in whatever manner you interact with law. It is also very interesting for businesses. With Legal Design Thinking you improve collaboration between marketing, legal and sales and bridge the communications barrier between legal, business and customers.


An example
Let’s take a webshop as an example. Marketing and sales are working constantly on improving the customer journey and conversion of sales. Everything is designed to ‘seduce’ the customer and to make the purchasing process as simple as possible. When shopping is done and people navigate to the basket to check-out, the customer has to accept the Terms & Conditions. Mostly a textfilled webpage full of difficult words and complicated sentences - if people actually open those documents. How does this fit in the ideal (ethical) customer journey? By using Legal Design Thinking, we can make this last step in the journey a transparent and empowering experience. Valid, easy to understand for your customers and perfectly tailored to your organization, while creating a competitive advantage by explicitly caring about your customers’ rights. We challenge businesses to address these corporate strategic responsibilities and are convinced you can create long term business impact with those ethical shifts. If still sceptical, look at the impact businesses make after changing to a more sustainable and ethical approach.


The impact of legal design thinking

To conclude, it is good to summarize what the impact of Legal Design Thinking can entail.

    Renewed focus on how to serve clients
  • New concepts of how to create and deliver value
  • Better interfaces & tools for clients to interact with the legal services/ legal aspects of services
  • Increased ability to secure users’ attention & get them follow through with legal processes
  • More holistic integration of legal grounds into services
  • Explore less-text options for communications, that have more resonance & improve comprehension
  • Take advantage of interactive digital technology to create usable, satisfying communication experiences.
  • Better structure of the services themselves, to be more efficient process-based and intuitive

Legal Design Thinking will make the law more accessible, more usable and more engaging. We will redesign how everyone can use the law and make legal tools that are user-friendly. This will empower people to get in control of their rights and duties.

Also want to create this impact? Follow and connect with us to learn more via Twitter (@LegalDT) or LinkedIn (Visual Contracts).