A key aspect of legal design, is the concept of user-centred law. As Tessa Manuello says ‘Most legal service delivery has been designed for a world that no longer exists‘.

User-centred law adapts existing legal services and systems to meet the users’ needs, rather than trying to adapt users to the services and systems. It places users at the centre of innovation.

Current legal services and systems are not:

  • designed for users
  • clearly communicated
  • based on a simple streamlined workflow
  • digitised to support data analytics
  • programmable.

The solutions differ according to the client needs, but may require visuals in contracts, legal design skills, innovation, digitalisation and creative problem-solving techniques.

Discovering User Needs

During a challenge in the Legal Creatives Academy, I looked at how to create a tool to help home-owners understand the payment process for their building project. I had to interview a number of contacts who had recently gone through a home extension or renovation project to find out:

  • what annoyed or frustrated them?
  • what made them happy?
  • what was missing from the process?
  • what was the journey for these users?
  • what did success feel like?
  • what would simple look like?

I delved in their pains and gains. I used the 5 whys technique (who? what? why? where? when?) to find posssible solutions which I then tested on those users. I used lots of flipcharts to map the user journey.

What Were My Solutions?

I produced a simple 5-a-day chart on the happiness of home-owners based on my data but also a questionnaire to check their readiness to start a project and get the certainty that users need:

A payment terms 5-a-day plate Home-owner questionnaire

What Should You Do?

If you are a user or buyer of legal services, ask your advisers to put you at the centre of their systems, not allow them to mould you to fit their systems!


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