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How Can Design Thinking Improve Legal Operations

May 7, 2024

How Can Design Thinking Improve Legal Operations

Corporate legal departments are accustomed to addressing legal issues, yet sometimes they overlook the importance of optimizing their internal processes. A Wolters Kluwer article suggests a user-centric problem-solving approach called design thinking, commonly associated with software development, can improve Legal Operations.

Design thinking comprises several phases: empathize/define, ideate/prototype, and test/ implement. Legal Ops professionals should begin by empathizing with their users to understand and define their goals and pain points. This step is crucial for identifying underlying issues.

Next comes ideation/prototyping. Legal Operations professionals must creatively brainstorm solutions with their corporate legal department to identify problems. For instance, if they are facing cost management issues, they might develop a triage tool to assess risk levels and recommend appropriate legal firms, resulting in significant cost savings. Alternatively, incentivizing cost-saving behaviors or reallocating saved funds back into the department could also be explored.

The testing/implementation phase involves piloting the chosen solutions with a selected business unit or practice group. Continuous communication with users during this phase allows for feedback and adjustments, ensuring that the solution meets their needs effectively. Engaging users in the process helps manage change and increases the likelihood of successful implementation.

Ultimately, design thinking offers corporate legal departments and Legal Operations professionals a systematic approach to streamline processes and enhance overall effectiveness. By challenging assumptions and embracing innovation, they can improve legal operations and achieve organizational goals.

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