November 10, 2017

Five for Friday: Legal and strategic design

Struggling to juggle legal terms in contracts? These companies are here to help say it in layman's terms.
Struggling to juggle legal terms in contracts? These companies are here to help say it in layman's terms.
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The word design springs to mind messy sketchbooks, not neatly organised forms and lawful contracts – or does it? Let Finns lead the way.

Like Antti Innanen pointed out in his column, the third success story of Finnish design might as well be legal. Last week, legal and strategic design experts gathered together at Legal Design Summit in Helsinki to feed the buzz that can be felt around the growing phenomenon that wants to improve the UX of the letter of the law.

Good News from Finland popped by to sense the vibrating air. Let us introduce some of the players in the team of Finnish frontrunners.

Hellon

As one of the organisers of the summit, this Helsinki- and London-based service design company believes that legal design approach introduces a much needed human-centricity and usability to the field of law.

“Finland has been a trailblazing country in design since the 1950s and its current expertise in service design has a worldwide prominence,” notes client service director Laura Franck. “The combination of this design legacy and its established and globally appreciated legal system makes Finland the perfect leader in legal design.”

Dottir Attorneys

Legal design will change the way law is done – nothing less, says Dottir Attorneys. The law firm will soon launch Dot., a legal design consultancy and sister brand for Dottir. According to partner Antti Innanen, more and more organisations are recognising the measurable value and results legal design can deliver.

“Research shows that design-driven organisations and industries consistently perform best,” he mentions. “It’s time that law reaped the benefits.”

Lexpert

Lexpert’s mission is to create user-centred and business-friendly contracts. Contract coach Helena Haapio and legal information designer Stefania Passera find it refreshing to finally see the world awakening to legal design and understanding how contracts and law can be used proactively to prevent problems.

“Our goal is ease of doing business,” they say. “When it comes to current contracts, we see not only waste of time and money, but also wasted opportunity. Well-designed contracts are managerial tools that capture goals and commitments and simplify understanding, collaboration and coordination. They can be so much more than legal tools used only if a dispute arises!”

Helsinki Legal Tech Lab

The University of Helsinki‘s law and technology project aims to combine high-quality research, experimentation and training of tomorrow’s lawyers. The lab produces information relating to the effects that technology has on law as well as experiments with how technology may be used to better legal processes in general.

“Legal design is not only about usability but also about designing systems that inherently take into consideration, for example, privacy issues or issues around bias,” project developer Hanna Pakaslahti points out. “Technology in itself is neutral. Design choices dictate the outcome of applying technology, and it is extremely important to understand the role design plays in technological development.”

Wevolve

Founded in New York and now operating in Helsinki, Wevolve is about to launch a new organisational service called Whole Work, which aims to bridge “the dreadful gap” between strategy and reality. The company notes that the Finnish design scene has always positioned itself as an enabler for a better society.

“The biggest opportunities for value creation, transformation, innovation and whatnot exist in today’s new normal in the realm of strategic design,” says Ville Tikka, strategy and design director at Wevolve. “Being strategic means we don’t start just by ripping the brief, but also unlearning what we know about the topic, challenging our worldview and building alternative mental models, business models and organisational models for our clients. “

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