Can legal design grow my law firm? The truth behind the hype

Legal design offers a framework and tools that empower lawyers like you to grow a successful law firm by

  • Designing the way you run and develop your law firm
  • Innovating new legal services and products  
  • Improving work processes to work smarter not harder

The result? Your clients receive a level of service and customer experience they can’t get elsewhere, and you, as the business owner, are happy and content with your life in the law. 

Don’t believe me? That’s ok. Lawyers are great skeptics, but I’ve done it and so can you. Read on and I’ll tell you all about my experience.

Dream big and escape the daily grind

Before we dive into the show and tell, let me ask you:

“When you started your law firm, what did you dream about?”

Making a difference? Serving people? Creating a positive impact on your community and the world? Be free and independent to run your business and life the way you want?

Too often the reality of running a law firm doesn’t match these dreams. Been there, got the t-shirt. 

Running a law firm takes over your life. Trading time for money and burnout, you’re unable to grow your business and serve as many people as you’d like. You end up feeling stuck and overwhelmed.

I know this because I’ve been there. 

My experience was one of frustration. Not serving enough clients or making an impact, there was no work-life balance. The ideas and dreams fell flat. 

Until I discovered legal design.

Legal design thinking transformed my approach to business

You heard right. Legal design thinking has completely changed the way I do business. 

And as a result, it completely changed my business, in ways I never thought possible.

I built my boutique law firm from scratch 10 years ago using legal design thinking. It was successful and profitable and gave me great joy.  After discovering legal design had legs, I decided to share my knowledge with lawyers like you. Lawyers Design School was born and I use the same legal design thinking in this business as I did in my firm. 

It works, on every level.

How is legal design different to conventional business development?

The biggest change was the mindset shift requiring me to approach my business in a completely different way. Once I shifted my thinking, I was able to implement the process and tools of legal design thinking that then made it possible to achieve the concrete transformation in my business and services. 

If I hadn’t started applying legal design thinking in my business, I’d be stuck and probably out of business. All my dreams and ideas would be collecting dust on the shelf right now.

How to grow your law firm with legal design

We’ll start with two approaches that make a powerful impact.

1. Crafting the client journey with legal design

First, it’s all about your client and their journey with you. 

As a service provider, you must understand where your clients are in their life or business and what they are going through to be able to serve them in a meaningful way. When you map your client’s experience from the first interaction with you to the last, you can influence the outcomes.

Most of us lawyers have no idea about the client’s feelings about their purchasing journey.

Client journey mapping is like taking a 30 000 foot view of your business but looking at it from your client’s perspective. We look at how all the interactions with you (we call them touchpoints in legal design) form a path from start to finish for your client. And then we look at what happens to your client in between those interactions? 

Crafting the client journey using legal design gives you fuel for innovation to create new services and business products. Mapped correctly, these ideas are not just random thoughts like “yeah, this might work” but vetted ideas founded in data and deeper client understanding.

And it’s not hard because your clients will tell you exactly what they need and what you need to focus on. All you need to do is listen and believe. This is where legal design comes into play. It offers the process and tools for client journey mapping.

PS: If you’re shaking your head or rolling your eyes about now, it’s your mindset coming to haunt you.

Client mapping in my law firm

First, I started with the moments of success and frustration for my clients. Asking questions and researching by pulling data from historical transactions and files. I looked at interactions across different channels (website, email, phone calls, social media channels) and different steps after the first contact until the feedback and beyond.

Very quickly I discovered the biggest pain point – pricing – it was too high. Even though my rates were reasonable, my startup clients couldn’t afford them as badly as they needed my advice.   

The problem with this insight for me was that I was offering tailored manual work like everyone else and charged by billable hours. There was no easy fix.

I needed to change the way I was delivering the service to be able to lower the price.

2. Kill billable hours with legal design

How? Use legal design thinking to transition from legal services to legal products. 

Designing legal products means taking your tailored legal hourly-billed service (like I was using) and turning it into a standardized and scalable fixed-priced product. One that may even run passively without you.

Legal products are easy to sell and easy to buy. They offer predictability for both you and your client. For you, they also mean that you stop trading time for money and start pricing for the value you create. 

In my case, it looked like this:

As soon as I realized that the startup clients’ frustration was about the price, I used this insight to productize the shareholders’ agreement (that was my main service for them) into a legal product that ultimately became an online legal product for my business.

What part did legal design play in this?

Following the legal design process, I found a clear focus for my innovation efforts and moved away from doing everything for everyone.

The legal design tools showed me how to create the prototype of the legal product and then test the prototype with real clients to improve it.

As a result, I had a vetted legal product that already had paying clients by the time it was launched to the public. A great way to build trust in potential clients. 

Previously I had launched similar projects following the traditional “build it and they will come” model. Needless to say, these projects never gained traction and quickly died. All because I didn’t follow the necessary order of research for success: Find the pain then build the solution. 

Using legal design thinking has given me 

  • Clarity on where to focus my business development efforts for the best results
  • Confidence to move forward with the doable action steps to lead the client journey and run my business like a pro
  • The escape from overwhelm and into flow thanks to the exact process to follow
  • Excitement and inspiration to continue growing; and
  • A regular and growing client base 

We all love more clients (especially happy clients), right?

Get the tools to grow your law firm with legal design

Legal design works for me and I see the transformation happening in the workshop participants at Lawyers Design School. Once you learn that you can apply these techniques to innovate solutions for your clients and that innovation and new ideas are possible for everyone, it’s rewarding for everyone.

If you’re ready to explore what legal design can do for you, why not grab the free masterclass Escape the guesswork and start growing your boutique law firm today – get the must-have 4 step design thinking framework to get more clients It’s a three-part masterclass delivered to your inbox. All you have to do is signup. 

Go watch it to get your tools for growth and sanity savers and let me know what you think.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers & happy lawyers. Episode 14.

You’ve just read a summary of my Instagram Live session. I run them weekly 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, I’d be delighted to see you at the next session. 

 You can catch a replay of episode 14 here or join me live and ask questions.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode 14. Legal design & law firms: the truth behind the hype.

Want to chat about it?

Is legal design feeling more reliable to you now?

I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to DM me on Instagram. 

Or join me on Instagram every Wednesday at 8 am ET where you can ask me about legal design and growing your law firm. 

You can find 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.