• By Marie Potel-Saville

The value of legal design for in-house lawyers


Beyond the buzzword, an exhibition of concrete projects during Paris Design Week

“Legal Design” is all over social networks, providers are mushrooming and the “Woodstock of Legal”, Legal Geek Conference, decided to create a dedicated day to the approach: “Legal Design Geek” on October 18 in London – sold out 1 month ahead of the event.

At the other end of the spectrum, “design.everything” is beginning to raise skepticism and design thinking gets criticized for being “fundamentally conservative” and preserving the status quo (https://hbr.org/2018/09/design-thinking-is-fundamentally-conservative-and-preserves-the-status-quo).

Where does that leave legal divisions in search of problem-solving innovations, and not just shiny tools? The need for effective, alternative legal solutions is not questioned: doing ever more with ever less, gaining agility to face never-ending disruption as the “new normal”, building capacity for co-creation in multidisciplinary teams where lawyers do not have all the answers… that’s just some of the most obvious challenges in-house legal divisions are facing.

But how? And how does the future of law look like? Is it still law – is it safe?

Rather than long speeches or newspaper polemics, we decided to show some tangible results. At the occasion of Paris Design Week 2018, the European legal design agency leveraged its Paris office to exhibit 6 of its projects, among a dozen to date.

About 200 guests responded to the invitation: GCs but also business units directors, law professors, judges, legal entrepreneurs and designers were able to immerse themselves in the approach and its outcomes.

First, they were invited to test by themselves some of the legal design tools such as user persona profile and user journey, in a series of 2 to 7mn exercises designed for the event.

Then, a forest of metallic trees welcomed guests to literally go round each project: the challenge, process, outcome and learnings or client feedback were showcased for each of the cases. There was a variety of issues tackled: from an arbitration processes made easy to understand for SMEs (Finland Arbitration Institute, “FAI”, https://arbitration.fi/arbitration/fai-arbitration-process/), to a digital-native influencer agreement (MAC), a privacy policy that consumers want to read, compliance programs leveraging user-centricity to ensure efficiency, as well as a pro bono project on womens’ rights.

Their common point? User-centricity. We combine legal expertise with design thinking and a bit of tech to make law accessible, intelligible and engaging. Yes, we apply design thinking to law, by focusing on the user first, identifying its profile, its needs, constraints, expectations and frustrations. Yes we do it during workshops with the users. Yes we create a first prototype, get users’ feedback, and iterate.

Now, what do the outcomes look like? Judge by yourself:

Why not start by compliance? An area in which decades of “tick-the-box” programs might have saved appearances, but often left users alone in the greyest areas, on the ground. What has design got to do with it? Design starts from and with the users. Who they are, what are their constraints and needs and what’s their journey regarding the compliance issues you’re tackling. Taking fully into account the user journey enables to deliver the right legal message at the right time, in a way which does not put off the user.

Now, let’s tackle influencers agreement. More specifically, how to enter into a co-branding contract with influencers who do not read emails nor Word documents, communicate and negotiate on IG, while driving the global cosmetics market?

The user-centric approach enabled us to create the first digital-native agreement, which does not just live on a webpage from editing to negotiating and signing, but also feels intuitive and “homey” to influencers.

Thus providing a holistic brand experience to influencers, in an ultra-competitive market.

And how about a privacy policy that consumers want to read? Putting an end to blind signing and empowering consumers to provide “informed consent”. Incidentally increasing legal safety by complying with Art. 12.1 of the GDPR, which imposes consent-related information to be provided in a “clear, concise way”, easily understandable by non-lawyers.

What now? By popular demand, the exhibition will be traveling in Europe, starting with London at Legal Design Geek, then Helsinki and probably Stockholm by the end of the year.

What could be the use cases for in-house legal divisions? Legal Design is particularly impactful:

  • where agreement templates pre-date the digital revolution, are long, text-heavy and difficult to negotiate,

  • where there is a discrepancy between the pace of the business and the time required by usual legal tools to achieve completion,

  • where compliance policies have piled-up in a “tick-the-box” style,

  • where the legal division suffers from an image deficit and

  • where millennial talent are difficult to retain.

And we’re really impressed by the imagination of our clients as to the projects which could benefit from a legal design makeover. Recently, a global service provider entrusted us to present some tricky legal issues in their bidding process, in an objective, precise and transparent way, while avoiding putting prospects off and while taking their fears and pre-conceptions into account.

Another international industrial group called us to the rescue 3 weeks before its annual legal seminar to empower its legal teams all over the world to tap into their creativity resources and present their activity, achievements and goals in an engaging and innovative way.

The creativity of our clients really makes us tick. Legal UX, at last.

About the Author

Marie Potel-Saville is Founder and CEO of Amurabi. She combines her 15+ years in-house and private practice experience with her passion for legal design, to provide clients with user-centric, engaging and real-life solutions.

Prior to Dot., Marie was Vice President Legal EMEA at Estée Lauder Companies Europe, and she previously served as EMEA Legal Manager at Chanel.

Her private practice experience includes 12 years in Magic Circle law firms in London, Brussels, Paris and Mexico City. Her expertise includes competition law, commercial agreements, compliance, litigation, M&A and data privacy.

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