How to find ideas or legal innovation for your new business in law

Do you feel stuck? Not sure where or how to find new ideas or legal innovation for your new law business? Please do not be discouraged.

I am here to reassure you can create ideas for your new legal business and transform your life. Yes. You.

I know you want a different life. And I am going to show you how to find the ideas and innovations to get you there.

First, get rid of thought saying ideas are for magical people with brains bulging with new and exciting innovations ready to put in place. Everyone can find ideas and innovation. Understanding the process is the trick.

Behind every innovation, there has been a process or a journey we rarely see. We assume a super bright spark thought of the new exciting way and it worked. Simple. But it does not work like that. Loads of practice, experimentation, and failures sit behind every new business innovation. Not all ideas work. Yet, once in a while, we find ourselves refining a diamond. Exquisite in its simplicity.

Refining the diamond. Generating ideas and innovation is a technique.

You have heard of brainstorming. Juicy ideas bubble like a broth and make their way to the surface. But brainstorming is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. The more you practice, the ideas you never thought existed will pop up. I promise you will surprise yourself when your creative genius appears.

These days, I generate more ideas than I can ever execute myself. When I go for my morning run, actionable ideas bounce around in my head. I need to tell my idea voice to stop. It is a small nuisance. I have even started to propose these ideas to my friends and family (sorry, not sorry!). To maintain my sanity, I have learned I cannot take action on every single idea bubbling to the top of my head.

The best part: I can trust that there will always be more. In time, so can you. Ideas will float around like butterflies in the springtime.

How do I find ideas and innovation?

First: start with the customer and understand the problems they face

Only start brainstorming when you have spent enough time understanding the real problem. Whether you are considering a legal design project or an innovation for your legal services, the customer is your focal point. You cannot start a new law business without offering a solution to problems facing your customers.

Read more about customer research here: How to Get Started With Legal Design – Customer Interview.

Second: notice the mundane

When you see an amazing new invention, it looks so obvious, right? You’d be forgiven for thinking it was so simple you could have thought of it. We have all done it.

A regular person somewhere has looked at something plain and mundane with new eyes and created a new and better way to do the same thing.

We run on autopilot most of the time, almost blindfolded. Our daily routines are so entrenched we go through the motions, without too much effort or energy. We pay no attention to the little things. 

Yet we create our daily routines and deliver our legal services ourselves. The fabulous opportunity we have is we have the power to redesign and improve them. The hidden treasures very often lie in plain sight. The everyday things no one bothers to notice. 

Yet, to get ideas about everyday little things, you need to strengthen your ability to notice them. To slow down and listen and observe. 

What if you looked at the world with new eyes? What if we turned everything the other way around? I love this piece of George Carlin’s thinking about Vuja De: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7LBSDQ14eA

Design challenge: here is a useful exercise for you. Choose one of your daily routines at work. Write down all steps and describe it as best you can. Is there a way you could redesign it? List all the ideas that come to mind.

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Third: frame your challenge

Framing your challenge helps your brainstorming. What ideas popped up when you did the design challenge?

Put boundaries around your brainstorming. Look for solutions for a narrower question. If your question is too broad, it creates confusion. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the boundaries do liberate. 

Above all, a good challenge is important and inspiring to you. It seeks to address a real problem of your ideal customer.

In design thinking, we constrain the problem space and broaden the solution space. In other words, refine the problem as narrow as possible. What is the problem? Whose problem is it? In which context?

A good challenge for brainstorming is one that describes the problem you are trying to solve. But does not stand on the solution itself. That leaves enough room and variety for solution ideas to emerge.

Take a look at the following examples:

– what kind of business should I start? 

– how to create ways for young entrepreneurs in the city X to get their legal questions answered?

See the difference

Fourth: stretch for volume (more ideas than you might think)

Now that you have your challenge ready, you can brainstorm the ideas for possible solutions.

The best way to find the idea right for you is to create lots of them. I am talking about a lot of ideas. At least, one or two hundred ideas in a short creative brainstorming sprint. 

Most people are happy with a brainstorming session achieving 10 or 20 new ideas. But the truth is it is not enough to get the most from yourself. It is time to tap your true potential

Free your mind from self-doubt and criticism

We are not looking for genius. I know you are a high achiever who demands the right answer first. But it is not the aim. We are looking for quantity. So, start thinking and writing. Write as many ideas as possible. No one is judging you. Remind your nagging brain, too. 

The very best innovation comes from hundreds of concepts and ideas. 

Besides volume, another key is speed. Brainstorming is not navel-gazing. When you have to produce a lot of ideas quickly, your voice of reason does not have time to get in the way. Not a place for critical analysis. Brainstorming is about maximizing the volume and removing the blocks to your creativity

Try this 30 minute and 100 idea exercise.

Take a pen and a good stack of post-it notes. Revisit the design challenge you framed. Start the timer and start writing down all the ideas that come to mind. Write one idea on each note. Write as fast as you can. Do not stop to think or filter out any ideas that come to mind.

When time is up, you can look and process your ideas further. Reflect on the process. How did the creative process feel? Where did you feel stuck? What ideas seemed to ignite inspiration and enthusiasm?

Choose the top 10 ideas you want to pursue.

Fifth: Learn from others

Yes, you read that right. When generating ideas, take advantage of great inventions in other industries or businesses. Take your inspiration from unexpected areas.

A new idea does not have to be born from thin air. They rarely are. After all, we all absorb information and inspiration around us all the time. And then reuse it in our work. This is how ideas work. We all build on the work of others.

To get inspiration and learn from others, expose yourself to new things. Dare to look outside your bubble and be open-minded about what you are experiencing. 

So, go places, talk to new people. Embrace the momentary discomfort because you do not know everything. And you cannot control everything happening around you. It is beyond your control and understanding and embracing this, is when the magic happens. It is exciting looking at the world with new eyes, new perspectives and thoughts of innovation

Be brave. Talk about your problem or idea. How does it resonate What feedback did you get.

I remember the time I had set up my law firm. I tried to come up with new service concepts for the business. I talked about my challenge with everyone who agreed to listen and got some fresh ideas on a silver platter. Here are a few suggestions from my brilliant circle of friends (feel free to grab them!). A service model from a one-stop dentist adapted to a law boutique. Or the concept of a low-threshold maternity clinic applied to a legal advisory. 

I started designing a legal cafe: “meet your lawyer over coffee”. I did not get the lease for the cafe space, and the idea flew away. Bummer. I love a coffee.

What new things could you try in law? Where could you get inspiration? What would the Tesla of law look like? What about the gamification of the law?

Give yourself a break

Sometimes the ideas do not appear right away or when you expect them to. An interesting solution or observation can register in your memory, and later pop into your mind in a completely different context. For me, the shower or my morning run. That is when my mind is free. 

Brainstorming challenges you to produce under the pressure of time. Yet time and space are important too. Your brain needs time to digest and rest. A combination of brainstorming then allowing your brain to reflect in peace works well and often conjures innovation at the most unexpected times.

Be gentle with your creative self. Creativity is sensitive and needs positivity, kindness and care. Creativity and brainstorming need action but forcing it will not work

If one moment is not right for brainstorming and designing, another moment may be better. Over time, you will learn to recognize those moments when the mind is playing tricks. Trying to keep you safe by making you feel scared. Go easy on yourself and then take action.

My lovely friend, are you wondering how to get started on all this? I know you can create a new career in the law, create new ways of filling gaps in the market. And most of all, seeing a happy version of you.

Start somewhere. Start today.  

Download my free workbook that will guide you step by step on how to get started on making your dream come true.

Workbook cover - 4 steps to start your business without leaving your day job

FREE WORKBOOK

4 steps to start your business without leaving your job

Image of Hannele Korhonen Legal Designer

Who’s writing?

Hi, I’m Hannele. I am an ex-corporate lawyer, legal designer, pioneer in legal tech, serial entrepreneur and blogger.  I am the founder and teacher in Lawyer’s Design School.

I’m here to teach you new skills and mindset of legal design to thrive in the future of law.

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