What does legal design thinking mean for lawyers?

And, 4 ways you’ll know it’s for you

What does legal design thinking mean for lawyers? Rather than being a new mindset, it offers a new way of practicing law. 

You’ll know legal design is for you if you:

  • Are creative
  • Put people first
  • Are curious
  • Are purpose-driven and looking for meaning in your work

Do you see yourself there? Legal design thinking could be your new path as a lawyer.

The new kind of lawyer

A legal design thinking lawyer is still a lawyer, but a lawyer who implements designerly ways in their everyday work and relationships with people.

You see, I define legal design thinking as a mindset, process and toolbox that you can use in any development project or challenge you have in your business or work. Legal design thinking boosts client-centricity, collaborative problem solving and drives innovation. 

But the current way lawyers work is dominated by left-brain activities: analysis, logic, and facts. There’s a huge demand for lawyers that make use of their right brain skills as well: creativity, intuition, imagination and emotional intelligence. 

This means people want lawyers like you.

Want to know more about the skills and attributes most suited to legal design thinking? Let’s dive in.

1. You are creative

You get a lot of ideas. You look at things with fresh eyes and come up with ways to make them better. You like to daydream and have a rich imagination. 

If this is you, I imagine the legal space has not been easy on you. It’s a place where traditions weigh more than new waves and where following the rules is a virtue and many times the only possible way of being and doing – for obvious reasons of course.

Use your creativity in your law

Adopting designerly ways to your work is the cure. You don’t have to separate creativity from your lawyer work and keep it a secret. Legal design thinking embraces creativity, its goal is to generate new ideas. The bolder the better. 

If thinking inside the box has never been your thing, legal design thinking might be just what you need. 

When you start implementing legal design thinking into your work, creativity becomes your strength as a lawyer. You strengthen your ability to come up with creative solutions. And your clients will love this and business will thrive. 

2. You’re human-friendly and put people first

You have deep empathy for your clients. You challenge how you communicate with them and look at their problems. You are authentic and allow everyone else, your employees and clients to be authentic as well. 

You prioritize people over profit. You don’t build hierarchies or maintain power structures to separate people from each other. You make people feel valued and cared for. 

I know, this does not sound like a typical workplace in the law. Long billable hours, stress, zero personal life, competitive peers and aggressive partners.

Human-centered lawyering is part of legal design

Human-to-human lawyering is already happening.

You’ll create ways to work smarter, not harder. 

Legal design requires you to include your clients and team members in the legal work. Collaboration, sharing information and working together is liberating and empowering.

You learn to ask the right questions and show unfinished products for feedback. You will be surprised to find out how smart people are and how happy they are to exchange thoughts with you. 

In an industry where working with others is still a real innovation, the multidisciplinary collaboration that is the essence of legal design thinking makes all the difference in the world.

Work without fear.

3. You’re curious and like to experiment

You’re multi-passionate and interested in different areas of life. You ask a lot of questions and don’t settle for easy answers. 

You ask “why” a lot to get to the bottom of things and get more excited about “what might be” instead of “what is”. You don’t pretend to have all the answers but you’re curious to test different solutions and ready to see what worked and didn’t.

In the world of perfectionism and highly specialised experts, this approach is not always warmly welcomed. If you’re paid huge amounts of money to know your stuff and expect constant perfection the transformation to a curious learner can be painful. 

If you’re ready to make space for your curiosity and start exploring new possibilities, legal design thinking is the solution. There’s no need to know everything in advance because the path forward opens step by step. Work with your curiosity and start exploring. 

Legal design thinking gives you the effective process and practical toolbox to use your legal expertise in a new way. 

4. You’re purpose-driven and looking for more meaning in your work

You have a strong set of values that you want to live by every day. You know your “why” behind your work. You became a lawyer for a reason and it’s more than just making money and becoming a partner. You want to help people and create a positive impact on the lives of others. You create meaningful relationships with your clients and the people in your firm. 

If you feel a disconnection between your current work and your values and principles, the problem is not with the law or with being a lawyer per se. The problem is in the way we learn to practice law. 

Legal design thinking gives a whole new perspective to your legal work. When you learn to truly understand and communicate with your clients, your work becomes meaningful and your role expands. The people you serve give you the meaning you’re longing for. And legal design thinking offers you practical ways to connect and collaborate with your people. There’s no need for guesswork. 

I’ve been there and I built my new way of lawyering so I know you can do it too.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers & happy lawyers. Episode 9.

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. 

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

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen Happy Customers and Happy Lawyers. Episode 9. 4 ways you’ll know legal design thinking is for you

Want to chat about it?

Did you see yourself in the attributes of legal design thinkers? Maybe you had an “a-ha” moment and realised it wasn’t you who needs to change, rather it’s the system. The law needs more people like you so don’t ever change. I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to DM me.

If you’ve got a question, join me on Instagram every Wednesday at 8 am ET where you can ask me about the customer experience in your firm. 

You can find me at  @lawyersdesignschool and get more practical tips on where to invest your business development efforts, finding new clients and how to be happy as a 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 customer-centric thinking to grow your law firm and thrive in your business.

Watch all the Happy customer and happy lawyers episodes.