Jamming - the way forward for legal service design?

What do musicians do when they come together? 

They jam.

They each bring their own instruments, their own skills - someone sets up a theme – maybe a chord, maybe a rhythm - and the rest start to play around it. They don’t overanalyse. They don’t discuss it endlessly.

They just get on with creating something none of them could have created alone.

‘Service Design Jams’ work in the same way but with ideas being jammed, instead of chords or tunes. Could this work for the legal industry?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’, as we found at when LexisNexis, working in collaboration with Janders Dean and The Bio Agency, hosted a ‘legal service design jam’ at Janders Dean’s ‘Horizons’ conference in May this year.

What's your flavour?

We started by identifying three headline topics, with a focus on the legal industry. These were focused on the “user” and included:

  • organisation/people problem (People Team)
  • legal process (Process Team)
  • legal service (Technology Team)

Twenty participants were divided into (you guessed it) three teams – one to focus on each of the three topics listed above.

Preparation was simple: turn up with an open mind, ready to be inquisitive.

Five rules for a successful Design Jam

To set the tone and parameters for the event, we set five simple rules:

1. Have fun

Don’t take the day too seriously.

2. Be open and collaborative

You are creating something together, which you couldn’t have done alone.

3. Thou shalt not kill...ideas too quickly

Less discussion, more action - instead of over-debating, create something and then you can test it.

4. Don't stress!

The jam is equally about the intangible outputs, such as meeting new people and learning from those around you.

5. Don't worry about fidelity

Visualise in the way that works best for your proposition and based on the time you have. There are no key deliverables.

Getting started

Design Jam timetableWith these rules in place, the teams were given eight hours to “jam” on their respective topics – and to come up with a design for a better world.

The teams themselves drew together people with a wide a range of skills and experiences both inside and outside the legal industry. Teams included specialists in design thinking and service design well as those with a diverse range of roles within the legal industry such as Legal Knowledge Engineers, Enterprise Architects & Senior Associates.

The experience of having “fresh eyes” on the legal industry allowed us to start wide, mapping out the landscape of ‘big’ problems, before narrowing in to focus on what to work on in detail.

A wide lens - problems and the big picture

postitsThe first session aimed to capture the “flare” or breadth of the issues around the topic. Participants began a post-it note brain dump of all  the problems, barriers and issues they could think of related to the topic. Talking about barriers and issued faced on a daily basis quickly broke any ice. Participants worked together to cluster the issues into the main themes they saw emerging.

Focusing in - what matters and getting insights

Each team decided what stood out for them as the key issues. But, remember the focus on the user? The coffee break gave participants the opportunity to do just that - interact with other delegates, validate what they saw as the key issues, collect more depth, get insights from legal experts and rate the right ideas to take forward.

Interacting with the user in Design Thinking stops the group becoming internally focused. It allows the voice of the end user or key stakeholders be heard. And of course reminds you that any solution must work for them.

Creating concepts

After consolidating feedback and rejigging themes the teams took to creating their concepts:

The People team focused on a matrix of where skills and talents sit within a law firm – they mapped roles and skills between experience and inexperience (senior/junior) and the legal/non-legal divide. (You can see the original model and read about some of the insights that came out of that exercise here: Enter the matrix: mapping skills in a typical law firm.)

The other two teams (process and technology) took specific examples and began to map out the as-is processes for these with the experts on the team.

Despite the different paths, the main thing to emerge here was the mapping not just of processes but of the actors in those processes, including clients and opposing sides. Understanding the who as well as the what in legal processes is key. This marries to the use of personas within design thinking to remember who is doing what and what their motivations are.

Starting to design a better world...

In building out a better world, the teams took slightly different approaches as well.

The Technology team looked at how and where new technology could help the process they had defined. The People team started to map out a timeline of skills gathering and skills re-utilisation in a system that started before you even joined as part of the recruitment process. The Process team got creative drawing out a cartoon of what the world would look like with their system to “not reinvent the process wheel” within a process led system that pulled together teams and gave clarity of progress to their client.

More than just a start… a Design Sprint delivered in an hour

dashboardTeam Process used the last hour to design the front-end of their storyboard. Whilst not advisable to do this in an hour (Google do Design Sprints over a week) it goes to show what can be done with a framework discipline, innovative minds and people with the right mindset.

The Service Designer used a variety of techniques to get the teams collaborating openly, making sure fresh feedback was constantly coming in and working through the tough task of mapping and improving processes. This was powerful as it steered the team clear of solutions until they understood what the problem was in the first place.

Key takeaways

As touched on above, in just eight hours all three teams identified challenges that will be familiar to many people across the legal industry and – perhaps more importantly – made a solid start on proposing workable solutions to being addressing them. The output from these sessions is captured in a series of three ‘mini-reports’ which are linked to at the end of this article: Legal Service Design Jams – 9x times more productive than Jack Bauer.

In addition to the ideas themselves, we also finished the day with a number of lessons and insights about the process of ‘jamming’. In particular, the event  underlined the importance of:

1. Being user-centered - who are we designing for, keeping them front and centre at all times.

2. Experimenting - there were a few dead ends but people were willing to doing things differently,

3. Creativity - looking for opportunities and mixing skills creatively to create the concepts

4. Being ‘intentional’ – we were not just doing things in a void, everyone was grounded in their organisations and how they work (or should work) and think how to achieve real things in that context

5. Iterating – each stage is a step forward, but be willing to amend course as more information insight comes to hand or your concept prompts insights you’d not have got otherwise.

More jam here:

Report 1: People

Report 2: Process

Report 3: Technology

If you would like to discuss anything in this article or would like to find out more about facilitating a design jam of your own, please contact Alex Smith (Senior Product Lead - Platform Innovation, at LexisNexis UK).

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