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7 Tips on How to Implement Legal Design at Work

This week we spent two amazing days as facilitators of the Legal Design Retreat in Frankfurt hosted by streamlaw and Astrid Kohlmeier. On our train ride back to Berlin, we reflected on the experience and how we can contribute to keeping the creative momentum alive for all participants of this wonderful event.

One of the questions, which had come up in the final feedback round, was how to take first legal design action when back in the office on Monday.

Legal Design (Thinking) is more than just applying the steps of an innovation process to a long-term project. It’s also a mindset to approach everyday work and life to create fruitful grounds for innovation. So, you don’t have to wait for the next big challenge popping up to apply Legal Design. You can be a Legal Designer from this second on!

We´ve put together some hands-on tips for your Legal Design quick-start and hope it will help you to apply Legal Design in your real-life work setting - starting now:

Visualize something.

By sketching out an idea, a concept or a process, you can make these hard-to grasp elements much more tangible. Getting an idea out of your head an e.g. onto paper, makes it possible to take a step back and look at what you’ve come up or what you’re dealing with from the outside. With a clear mind, your brain has the capacities to play around with the idea and imagine how to develop it even further. These effects also make visualizing a great tool for collaboration. Visualizing gives you a means of physically showing your colleagues what you are thinking of. At the same time, you’re sparking a creative process by leaving room for interpretation, which words sometimes won’t.


Simply listen to the people around you. How do your co-workers feel about their tasks? What aspects of their work are they not satisfied with? How do people work who you admire? Listen closely to everyone you speak to, dig deep when asking questions and learn from what you’re told. Active listening will enable meaningful conversations, provide valuable insights and get you the feedback you need, to iterate how things are done in your workplace, even if only by yourself – for now.

Take on a different perspective.

At this point, we all know how important it is to develop a deep understanding of a problem before jumping to solutions. There’s even more to it, though. By approaching the problem from different points of view, you´re opening up the space for more potential solutions. Providing as many perspectives as possible by working in a diverse and multidisciplinary team, is a powerful tool when addressing a new challenge. So, team up with someone outside your profession and let yourself be inspired by their take on the matter.

Organize your thoughts & manage ideas.

Ideas and thoughts are constantly flooding our minds, and as they come, they go. In order to make them useful, first of all capture them, by writing them down. A nice way to do this is to use post-its, so you can stick them on a wall (window, door, table top…), organize and rearrange them. Even if they don’t make sense at the moment, they could become a piece of a bigger puzzle later on. Once your thoughts are on the board, it’s easier to make sense of them and connect the dots.

Find a like-minded person to collaborate with.

No movement has ever started out as something big, especially not in the world of work. BUT, to start even a small movement, you need a first follower. Instead of trying to convince everyone of how cool Legal Design is, choose one like-minded person and make her your ally. From there, you can apply your first Legal Design insights to your own work. Providing positive outcomes and creating great experiences, will eventually inspire others to give this innovation approach a try. Just try it and see!

Do warm-ups.

Warm-ups are awesome on so many levels. First of all, they’re an amazing source of positive energy. Doing a warm-up can have your team back laughing and hyped within minutes. Being goofy together will quickly increase your creative confidence, enabling you to easily get out of your comfort zones. How about next time, energy or creativity is low, you suggest to pair up and take 5 minutes to invent a new signature handshake?

Look for Design Thinking readiness.

Find the sweet spots within your organization from where you can best start your own Legal Design grass-root movement. What is a field that could really need a creative push? Where do “users” occur? Most human-centered issues within the legal field are ready to be innovated. Go out and spot them!

As you can see, kick-starting your Legal Design journey is quite easy! Start with these little, seemingly obvious, yet often neglected steps. Consider your workplace to be your new grounds for design research, fostering creativity, testing ideas and having meaningful conversations. Just go for it and discover how much of an impact this can already have! Not everything can change by Friday – but you can!

We’d also be super excited to hear back from you on the ups and downs of your Legal Design mission! So send us an e-mail via info@thisislegaldesign.com or get in contact via LinkedIn.

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