What is the purpose of legal design?
Legal design breaks the codes of regulation, while respecting the substance of the law, to bring transparency, clarity and user sovereignty.
Ideally, every person should understand the legal rule that is addressed to them.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Indeed, the law is most of the time jargonous and difficult to understand: long sentences, references to other articles, no definition of terms, the list is long.
In the best case, it intrigues, in the worst case, it creates rejection. The consequences are not trivial. It will not be applied correctly, or not at all, weakening small and large organizations, or it will continue to penalize those who do not have the keys to decipher it.
However, in a democracy worthy of its name, the law cannot be satisfied with being "the thing of jurists and lawyers alone" according to Weber.
In other words, infusing legal culture is a public policy mission at all levels because :
- the law has no meaning and utility unless it is understood by all;
- the law must be focused on the people it is intended to serve or who use it;
- the law only exists if it is accepted, accessible and enforceable.
Does combining law and design really work?
Legal design may have been perceived as rock'n'roll or incidental by the legal world. In the past, legal design has even been frankly misunderstood.
From now on, our role is to get the law out of its rut and give it back its full function in the service of all.
The golden rule? Put the end user (the citizen, the operational person, the customer, etc.) at the center of the approach.
|Before legal design||After the legal design|
|Texts and legal services transmit regulations in a crude way, in technical terms.|
End-users spend a lot of time trying to understand the scope, meaning and application of the regulations.
|The needs of the end-users as well as their level of legal maturity are identified.|
Legal design makes legal information accessible and uses the power of neuroscience combined with design so that it is read, understood and accepted.
The legal design method is extremely structured. Here, user research and data are the law. In short, nothing is left to chance and everything must be proven:
Immersion in the environment and state of the art (analysis of the main scientific or commercial sources) to understand the situation and the state of mind of the end users. Here, it is a matter of questioning the issue, i.e. identifying the real problem to solve;
- User research:
Listening to and collecting comments and observations from users without censoring them (interviews, focus groups, profiles and user paths);
Co-creation, with the whole team and the participants, of solution tracks according to the analysis of the user research phase. This is the magic of workshops in which we co-create with the users;
- Rapid prototyping:
Creation of several mock-ups to verify in "real life" if it solves the users' difficulties and if it meets their needs;
The different prototypes will be tested and invalidated or improved according to the participants' feedback;
There is a final version that can be deployed on a large scale.
Some examples of results in numbers for better legal efficiency and stronger risk management:
- Saving of 2h30 per week per lawyer at Renault for the management of contractual processes
- 95% adoption of a natural language legal search tool Lefebvre Dalloz
Did you know that?
There is a groundswell of legislation around the world that mandates transparency, clarity, accessibility and the ability for users to make informed and free choices.
How is it used today?
Legal design is often assimilated to popularization drawings. However, this vision is erroneous, as shown by the method.
Moreover, Margaret Hagan's book Law by Design identifies different degrees of application of legal design for more or less complex problems.
- Legal information design to deliver clear information and transmit the right message at the right time
Example: a legal diagram, a timeline, etc .
- Legal product design to create a tool that facilitates the accomplishment of a task.
Example: a case law research interface or a contract management application, etc;
- Legal design of legal processes to empower users to use the law and make informed choices
Example: the creation of an application or platform between operational staff and lawyers to improve efficiency and user experience
- The legal design of organization to make people collaborate efficiently together (hiring, remuneration, organization of interpersonal relations, etc.).
Example: organization of a legal department with other internal clients or associating a lawyer with an operational person in order to make the communication and management of contracts much more fluid.
- System legal design to coordinate large-scale projects.
Example: creation of a new court or a digital organization merging several state services.
Is it possible to train in legal design?
Legal design is a young discipline, and many French lawyers are still unaware of its existence. This is quite logical since this method was born in 2014, the year in which Margaret Hagan, director of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford, conceptualized "legal design".
In Europe and in France, initiatives are multiplying. The legal design village, organized by the Village de la justice, is offered during the days of legal transformations, some universities offer diplomas or training modules and, above all, some jurists and lawyers like us are the spokespersons of this movement.
Some principles to know
|Ability to put yourself in the shoes of your users.|
Observe your end users and ask yourself:
-what is their level of understanding of the legal topic at hand?
-what are their needs, their sticking points?
-in what form/ medium are they most likely to "consume" the information?
|Define a clear objective and ask yourself: |
-What is the purpose of implementing a new document/process?
-For example: to make minors adopt privacy, to improve communication with operational staff, to be less solicited by telephone by your customers? In short, the scope is very wide.
|Language that allows users to quickly identify the information they are looking for, easily understand it on first reading, and know what to do with it.|
This is an academic discipline in its own right, but here are some basic tips.
- use the active voice and pronouns
use meaningful headings or questions
write short sentences, keeping the subject and verb together and using action verbs
test your users for understanding