Law Society #LawMatters: The Law Society Brings Design Thinking to the Legal Profession

31/01/2019 - 09:09


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Law Society #LawMatters: The Law Society Brings Design Thinking to the Legal Profession
Design Thinking Workshop

The Law Society is embracing design thinking as part of our core professional education offering in 2019. As the peak professional association for the legal profession, we continue our commitment to extending knowledge and promoting collaboration with new people and the propagation of new ideas. Nick Lim, Management Consultant, Strategy, Culture and Organisational Transformation is presenting our design thinking morning in February and presents his views on design thinking in this article.

Over the past 15 years we have observed many of the well-known industries become subject to transformation: the music industry with iTunes and Spotify, marketplace with Amazon, transport industry with Uber, entertainment with Netflix, and accommodation with Airbnb to name a few well-known brands. There are many factors that have led to the disruption and transition of age-old industries. These are common products of a digital revolution such as the speed of the internet, increase in data storage, and connectedness of disparate markets. Many assume that these transformations are isolated to technologically pliable industries and there are still businesses that are protected from a transformation that these have encountered. I challenge this assumption.

Placing this argument aside for the meantime, we cannot deny the impact that these transformed industries have had on customer and employee expectations. For instance, music anytime or anywhere, products at the click of a button, transport just in time, unlimited entertainment without leaving my home and authentic travel experiences create an overwhelming expectation of immediacy.

What about the noble health, accountancy and legal professions to name a few? Will these be ripe for similar transformation as we have seen in other more transactional industries or are they shielded? We are observing transformations already occurring with online services, robot process automation of technical records and services and platform business models. This race will continue to exploit technological advancements whether we like it or not and disruption is on the precipice for many of these professions.

However, I believe that the new race for innovation for the technical nobility is not via technology but with intimacy, connectedness and uniqueness. Customers are overwhelmed with the spam they receive on social media, where advertising second guesses what they need. They are disenchanted by their relationship with a business as they feel more like a number than ever before. This is why I believe that people, not customers, are looking back to the ‘golden era’ where personalisation was not derived through a computer but by a relationship and a human network.

Further to this, big business has observed impacts to employee loyalty. Millennials do not want to be in the same job for more than five years and it is commonly understood that they will have more than five career changes in their lifetime. Millennials do not see the value in a career that takes their life but they want to build a lifestyle within their careers. As big industry tries to grapple with these changing expectations, they have explored new opportunities. This includes workplace flexibility, culture change, new office layouts, faster job cycles, and mentor programs to name a few. To me, these point to similar markers in the world of customer expectations: intimacy, connectedness and uniqueness.

The technical industries and professions must not shy away from creating experiences that embrace intimacy, connectedness and uniqueness. This is increasingly important since they are service driven. Embracing innovations in these areas for both customer and employee experiences could pry open a new era of transformation. Who better to transform the customer and employee experiences than the people that have served them for generations?

A key enabler in this transformation is Design Thinking. The Design Management Institute irrevocably proves the impact of a designer’s toolkit on business results noting a 219% difference in market value for businesses that embrace design thinking. So, why not apply these same tools to transform the customer and employee experience in the technical industries and professions? Andrea Perry-Petersen recently referenced the five design phases in her article in Lawyers Weekly: ‘Could a designer’s mindset bridge the justice gap?’ (full article here).

Empathise with and seek input from those who use your services or products
Define your users’ needs and problems, and your insights about the issue
Ideate through challenging assumptions and imagining innovative solutions
Prototype to start creating solutions – build to think and learn
Test solutions with users, seek feedback and adjust

I believe these tools could create an experience revolution for technical industries and professions and I’m passionate about supporting organisations to explore their options through creative measures.

I will be speaking on and facilitating a workshop for the Law Society of Western Australia and its members on 22 February 2019 to explore Design Thinking and its applicability to the legal industry now and into the future. We are really excited about creating a collaboration of minds to focus on the subject of designing flexible work practices through the methodology of design thinking. Find out more at


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