Law and design are not often brought in conversation with each other. This is a loss to both fields.

Superficially, design and law could not be more different.  Law is text-heavy and often quite abstract.  Design emphasizes visualization, sketching ideas out, and emphasizing the human elements of any situation.  Law often is confusing for non-initiates (and sometimes legal professionals) to navigate. It has a reputation for being adversarial, with zero-sum attitudes, and strong hierarchy.  Design is less formal, more participatory, and collaborative.

But design and law share a fundamental purpose — to shape how humans act and interact with each other. They are both oriented (at least in the idea) towards problem-solving, serving clients, and building better ways of life. They also concern themselves with argumentation and rhetoric — putting forward hypotheses, supporting them, and putting them out into the world hoping that they will affect people’s lives.

Law and technology have been introduced to each other, but law and design methods have not.

This initiative sets out to address this underexplored territory, where law and design meet.  It brings together several authors who have been working and thinking about this intersection – entrepreneurs, lawyers, designers, and academics – who are at the forefront of bringing design thinking into law.

This initiative proposes that if design thinking, management styles, practices, and process are woven into the field of law, the ‘users’ of law will benefit.  Professionals can deliver legal services more effectively. Clients will feel more supported, understood, and satisfied in their interactions with the legal system. Law students will be more engaged with the law, and enjoy the experience of mastering it.

Redesign of law — with the focus on the user experience of the client, and of the lawyer — can raise new ways of giving legal advice, carrying out litigation, and resolving disputes.  New models of legal practice are beginning to arise with new generations of technology, to allow clients more inexpensive and instantaneous access  to the law. We can use design principles to determine if the new tech and services are improving the law — and can we use design thinking to imagine more and better such interventions.

Designed law promises better delivery of services to users, more efficiency, more satisfying relationships, and resolution of disputes.

There have been some projects applying human centered design to law, but there has not been sufficient theoretical grounding or a research agenda. This is where we want to make an impact.

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