5 powerful legal design trends disrupting the legal industry in 2022

Lawyers are using legal design to transform the legal profession today. Here are five trends lawyers are using to shape the way they work in 2022.

  • Learning and designing tools they can use right now to grow their business 
  • Building team capacity and transformational mindsets
  • Embedding legal design thinking in the company culture rather than within a team of dedicated specialists
  • Designing tangible methods to measure the return on investment in legal design
  • Improving their customer experience through the application of legal design principles

These trends are impacting firms all over the world and I see them in the legal design workshops.  The emerging changes are not unique to particular law firms or lawyers because I watch the same frustrations, challenges and discussions appear in every workshop. 

When we work together and peel back the layers and get to the nitty-gritty of what is working for lawyers and what’s not, I see the trends. This is legal design IRL and it’s transforming lawyers.

Here’s what’s happening.

Build capacity for innovation and transformation

The first trend in legal design is a foundational one. Legal teams around the world want to build innovation and transformation mindsets so they can apply that mindset to their work, systems and services. They are using legal design thinking as a way to grow that mindset muscle and radically shift the way they work. 

This mindset shift means legal teams don’t immediately dive into new contracts or legal products as a reaction to a problem. Instead, they apply a designer mindset to look at how best to approach the work before automatically responding with contracts and products. They’re asking: What is the real problem and where is the opportunity to provide the best solution?  

Building a foundation of innovation and transformation is delivering real results. If the team and lawyers do not have any legal design mindset to build legal innovation and transformation, it’s so much harder to get real results. There’s no soil to grow. But if you include the mindset and team capacity into the roadmap, the results are real and from that success, you get both commitment and momentum to continue.

Lawyers are embracing innovation and transformation as a mindset and using legal design to question the traditional assumptions and approaches to legal services. And their designer better ways.

Watch this space.

Legal design is not an isolated effort

The second legal design trend is design thinking across companies. Businesses are seeing value in spreading the word and making legal design tools available for everyone.

Legal design is no longer closeted within an innovation department or team of people who are dedicated to developing legal processes and operations. It’s a company mindset and the tools are for everyone. 

This shift is significant because when you open the space for everyone to speak you give lawyers more agency over their work. It builds trust and confidence that anyone, including the lawyers, can come up with good ideas to improve the way you serve your clients.

Everybody wins.

Return on investment and legal design

The third trend is that lawyers want real results from a legal design project, big or small. They want to see the return on investment (ROI) in the effort – that the value they generate is more than the cost of the effort. 

Lawyers often ask me how to “sell” legal design to their boss, their manager, CEO or CFO. The lawyers see the need for building the legal design mindset, improving client experience or designing new services, but they need their boss on board too. The boss owns the checkbook. 

Managers who sit on the money might not care so much about intangible benefits but they do understand money. As legal design thinking matures and the adoption curve grows, we need to be able to speak about money and the business case for using legal design thinking. 

I’m watching the numbers of great legal design examples grow and the ROI models are improving. We design ROI calculation methods in the workshops.  Defining and measuring ROI are really useful exercises because they prove that it’s worthwhile looking into ways of scaling legal design rather than sticking with scattered one-time efforts.

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The customer experience matters

The fourth trend is quite an obvious one. And that is the growing emphasis on the client experience as a strategic tool in legal businesses. 

Even though the rest of the world embraced the experience economy 20 years ago, lawyers and the legal profession are only now discovering how important it is. 

Legal teams are learning that they create client experiences in everything they do whether they pay attention to it or not. Because anyone who interacts with a lawyer or legal service is part of the customer experience, whether lawyers appreciate it or not. 

It’s often an ‘a-ha” moment when lawyers realise the client experience is relevant to legal businesses. And even more so when they see it’s not fluffy marketing mumbo-jumbo or something they can’t control, but rather made of concrete elements they can work on to improve with legal design. This is where lawyers are rolling up their sleeves and making a difference. 

Some lawyers think the client experience relates to firms with external clients. Wrong. In-house teams are discovering the client experience is just as relevant to them and their internal clients. 

Improving the client experience is on-trend and legal design is the tool lawyers are using to get it right.

Legal design tools you can use right now

The final trend is concrete outcomes. Lawyers want legal design tools that they can use right now. This is a key reason for embracing legal design thinking as a mindset – because they can use the tools immediately to make impact.  Because they’re practical, concrete, easy hands-on tools.  

This is very understandable and human. We’re all busy and our days are full as it is, there’s no time for anything “nice to know” or “you might find this useful in the future”. 

This trend is also in line with the science about the way adults learn. We learn and implement the stuff that we find useful and applicable to our current challenges. 

Our attention span and capacity to implement new concepts are very limited as adults, so everything we learn has to be highly relevant and also feel personal. We don’t learn something new just for the heck of it. 

This challenges the way we plan and prepare legal design workshops. They aren’t one-size-fits-all but tailored to meet the needs of different participants because we want the outcomes to address the issues the participants are facing. 

We want to equip lawyers with tools they can use today to address the challenges they want to fix and get tangible results. It’s a non-stop process that’s very rewarding because the impact is huge.

It’s a great time to be a lawyer interested in being part of the change.  If you’ve got an issue or an idea niggling in your belly and you’re not sure if legal design can help, contact me. We can chat about it.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode 17.

You’ve just read a summary of my LinkedIn Live. I provide these sessions each week for law firm owners who are looking for actionable advice and tips on how to get more happy clients and make themselves happy lawyers with the help of legal design thinking. 

If you’ve read something that interests you please join me next week. 

 You can catch a replay of episode 17 here or join me live and ask questions.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode 17. 5 legal design trends for 2022.

Want to chat about it?

Is legal design feeling more relatable to you now? Could it help you run your law firm more innovatively and stand out in the crowd?

Feel free to DM any questions or join me on LinkedIn every Wednesday at 8 am ET where you can ask me about legal design and growing your law firm. 

Follow me at  @lawyersdesignschool and get more practical tips on building a thriving law firm, how to find new clients and become a happy boutique law firm owner.

Prefer email? Drop me an email at [email protected] And while you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and check out other ways to use legal design thinking to grow your law firm and thrive in your business.

Watch all the Happy customer and happy lawyers episodes.

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The must-have 4 step design thinking framework to get more clients (that works).

Ready to end the guesswork and grow your law firm today?