Want to change the way you do law?
Here are the three strategies we use at Lawyers Design School to effect long-lasting change in the way lawyers and legal teams do their law:
- Start with simple and scrappy
- Implement change in everyday work and not external projects
- Plan, then act
These three keys are the foundation of our change strategy because they work. Read on to find out why.
Simple and scrappy v getting it perfect first
When you want to change the way you do your law, you need to start with simple and scrappy.
Simple does not mean dumbing down. In fact, it’s much harder to come up with a simple way to do something instead of sticking with the complex.
Simplifying means nailing down the essence of the change you’re trying to make. Whether it’s a user-friendly contract, a new way to serve your clients, a new way of working for you or your team or something else.
You need to figure out what feels like the easiest and most doable way for you to proceed. All judgment aside.
And then start with that. Do the first crappy versions to test it and then make it better as you learn what is working and what isn’t.
Because movement is the most important to get things going. And you can change direction when needed.
An example of “simple and scrappy”
In the early days of Lawyers Design School, we were testing concepts and learning approaches.
Legal design has the user at its core and lawyers must understand the user’s struggles and this means involving the user in the process (rather than assuming we know what those struggles are).
So we asked the lawyers to do a user interview after their first workshop and to return with the results so we could apply them in the next workshop. We gave the lawyers everything they needed for the interviews including the scripts.
At the next workshop, I asked everyone to share their interview data there was silence. No one had done any interviews.
The assignment was too ambitious. It was too much for the lawyers to do a full-blown interview right off the bat, even when they were quite used to talking to their clients, asking questions and gathering data.
For the lawyers the design assignment was a completely different experience – the goal was different, their role was different, and even the language was different.
The leap from the current reality to the new – the change – was too big and scary.
After this insight, we changed the assignment. We thought long and hard about the essence of the user interview
- what is the core
- what could be the most simple way to get started
Simple and scrappy in action
The next version of the assignment was called “bring this up in a conversation”.
We created a new set of guidelines and templates and encouraged the lawyers to start with familiar faces, like their family, friends and colleagues.
The idea was to make it as easy as possible for the lawyers to start talking to their clients.
Why big perfect change doesn’t work
If you start with a big change project and try to get it perfect from the get-go, the chances are you’ll never get started in the first place. You’ll get analysis paralysis, trust me.
This philosophy of “something simple first” is the foundation of Lawyers Design School’s programs.
We’ve simplified the design process and tools so they feel accessible for the lawyers.
When they feel doable, impactful and inspiring the lawyers actually do the work and implement the change in practice.
Simple and scrappy change question for you
You’re thinking about change in your law, right? What could be the minimum viable version of your change? If you didn’t have to get it all done perfectly at once, what could be the simple version to get started with?
Everyday work v development projects
The most effective change happens when it is rooted in everyday work.
Chronically busy lawyers do not have time to initiate or take part in big development projects.
Think about a new tool you or program you have in your organisation. Do you use it? How many of them are sitting idle on the desktops waiting to be found by the users?
The secret to success is to embed the change in everyday work. Aim to change those small moments when a lawyer makes the decision on which application they will open, or which kind of language they will use in their email response.
These smallest moments are actually the biggest ones because they make a significant impact and the greatest results.
At Lawyers Design School we work on these big “small” moments and give tools to ask better questions, simplify your work products, and communicate better. And the results are impactful and made to last.
Everyday work question about your change
Now think about the change you’re aiming for. How could you make it fit into the everyday reality of you and your team?
Planning vs Action
All change needs planning but at some point that plan needs to come alive in action.
When you think about the story I shared in the beginning, you may think I should have planned the assignments better. That I should have figured out before the workshops that the user interviews weren’t going to work.
I could have planned it for months, but until I put the plan into a real-life test I would never learn if it worked or not.
You don’t know what you need to know until you try it.
Planning is not the same as action
Planning feels like you’re doing something, taking action for your change. It’s activity but it’s not forward progress.
It’s very easy to get stuck in the planning phase and then start procrastinating until everyone gets bored with it and gives up. The “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” syndrome.
Your plans do not change anything, the action that follows will.
In Lawyers Design School’s programs, the learnings are all about action, about doing. You apply everything you learn in your own work and make your own versions of it.
Because this is where the change and growth happen, through experimenting in practice and seeing results for yourself.
And that is what we want for you. To lead the change in law. Our promise is to give you the tools to do it.
Planning question for your change
Now that you think about your own change, have you done enough planning already? What’s the next step you need to take to move into action?
Ready to change your law
I talk with a lot of lawyers about their work and careers, and there’s a word a hear in almost every conversation: Change.
The lawyers I talk to want to see change: Change in the system, change in the culture, change in processes and changes in work. It’s hard for me to put my finger on one thing lawyers aren’t happy about in their work – but it’s clear many lawyers are unhappy.
The beauty of changing through legal design is it allows you complete freedom to explore the change you want to make at an individual level. Maybe you want to offer your legal services in a way that feels more authentic to you. Or maybe you want to carve out a distinctive niche or develop a new product or service. Perhaps you want to create a working culture that attracts the best talent in the world.
Whatever it is, you can use legal design to change your law. It will help you and your customers will thank you for it. And we can help.
Legal design thinking: IRL. Episode 26
You’ve just read a summary of my LinkedIn Live. I’m Hannele, the founder and CEO of Lawyers Design School and I’m on a mission to transform legal space with human-centered design (better known as legal design). It all starts with change and if you’re ready to change the way you do law, I promise I can give you the tools to get there.
I teach you how to add a creative and human touch to your everyday work as a lawyer so that you can be the lawyer your clients and the world need you to be.
If you’ve read something that interests you please join me next week.
You can catch a replay of episode 26 here Legal Design Thinking: IRL or join me live and ask questions.
Ask a question
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 for more tips and tools.
Prefer email? Drop me an email at [email protected] And while you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and the contract and legal design workshops we offer. If you want to change the law – we have the tools to help you do it.
Watch all the Legal Design IRL episodes.
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