Canadian Lawyer: How Legal can Benefit from the Principles of Design Thinking

Design thinking borrows from creative fields and gives business organizations tools to really change how things get done. The process was discussed last week at the Emerging Legal Technology Forum sponsored by Thomson Reuters and MaRS LegalX in Toronto with a panel called The Impact of Design: A Corporate Legal Department Conversation.

The panel discussed how more and more legal organizations are embarking on projects to “design” a better way of doing business with their external service providers.

There are essentially five steps that make up a design thinking project, said Liam Brown, founder and chairman of Elevate Services, Inc. An organization needs to identify what it needs, then identify the problems that need to be solved, followed by brainstorming the solutions (which could include both lawyers, finance people and others in a legal department), then build the solution and finally test what you come up with.

“Design thinking is really a lot of common sense,” said Brown. “You really need multi-disciplinary teams working together and you need to get the right people in the room. You have to have empathy and be curious — don’t be fixed or locked on something but be prepared to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try things out,” noting that for law firms, having the right people in the room could include having clients there as well providing feedback.

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