September 5, 2019
The Power of Design Thinking to Improve Client Service
By Kate White, Co-founder, Design Build Legal
In an era in which Amazon Prime sets the bar for the speed, ease, and satisfaction with which most of us expect to receive services, “legal” is being held to a higher standard. Law firms serving clients and in-house teams serving the business are expected to clear paths, provide transparency, and make the lives of those designing, launching, marketing, and selling the products easier. 
 
Design Thinking methodologies and mindsets can be powerful tools for legal teams striving to be strategic partners, contribute to business outcomes, and get high marks from their clients. But you don’t have to host a hackathon or an all-day workshop to innovate your services. Here are eight tips for how you and your team can start using Design Thinking principles today to launch solutions that solve your business clients’ greatest challenges. 
 

 
1. Start with Empathy 
Empathizing with your end user in order to gain a greater understanding of his or her needs is a core principle of Design Thinking. When is the last time you asked your business clients if they feel like they’re recreating the wheel? Or what they would focus on if they were able to free-up 40% of their work day? By engaging in new kinds of conversations with your stakeholders, you’ll uncover opportunities to innovate your services in no time. 
 
2. Carefully Define the Problem and Make the Business Case 
By spending more time upfront defining the problem, you’ll save your team time and resources in the end. It’s easy once you start designing and gathering feedback to get derailed - some stakeholders might ask, “well, that’s great - but can it do X?” Or bring up a pain point that’s related, but not the same as the one you set out to solve. Document, upfront, the business case for investing in solving this problem, including the outcome you hope to achieve, so that you’re able to stay focused and demonstrate success. 
 
3. Involve People Outside of the Legal Department 
Another important lesson from Design Thinking, particularly for legal professionals who tend to work in homogeneous groups, is the importance of bringing together a cross-functional team to ideate on your problem statement. Who from Finance, HR, IT, Marketing, or the business’s frontlines can you bring to the table to brainstorm? Give everyone some Post-its and Sharpies, share your problem statement, and be open to hearing unconstrained ideas from people with different skills and backgrounds. 
 
4. Bring the User Along for the Ride 
Once your team has settled on an idea or solution, get it back in front of your initial stakeholder group. Do this again after you have a first draft of a prototype, and again before you finalize the prototype, and again... you get the idea. Lawyers, in particular, have a tendency to want to present something polished and perfect, and nothing less. Design Thinking encourages us to gather feedback from our users early and often, evolving the design based on the feedback we gather throughout the process. 
 
5. Think About Integrated Services 
For so long legal service providers were focused on pointing out risk, or solving discrete legal issues after they arose. Legal teams should be thinking more like the Big 4 in terms of how they can provide integrated services that evaluate portfolios of matters, and focus on process improvement, automation, risk mitigation, and self-service. Work to design a solution that makes your users’ lives easier! Pure and simple. 
 
6. Be Scrappy 
Generally, you don’t need to bring on enterprise software to solve problems. Look at the tools you already have on hand: How can they be used in new ways? Do you have access to company-wide software but can’t get someone in IT to help you use it? Look into bringing on a contractor who specializes in designing on that platform and can focus exclusively on your project. Or, come up with a low-fidelity version of your solution first, and get your stakeholders using it. A prototype should give your idea enough shape to get feedback from your stakeholders, but not take a lot of time or money. Once you’ve proven the concept, then look for budget to bring a tech solution to life. 
 
7. Use the Data! 
Regardless of what you’re designing, there will likely be data involved that can help inform how to improve your solution, where else you might use it, or help you teach your stakeholders something they didn’t know about their process. 
 
On a macro level you can use data to determine where your team should prioritize its design time as it sets out to innovate. Are you logging the requests your team receives to identify areas of high demand? Are you gathering broad feedback from your business stakeholders to determine where they think your team is slowing down business processes or missing opportunities to better serve their department? 
 
8. Look for Opportunities to Scale 
While it might feel like you’re using a lot of resources to solve for one problem, or one stakeholder group, there’s a high probability that the processes you improved, tools you adopted, or lessons you learned can be scaled to other areas. Refrain from putting energy into scaling until you’ve launched a solution with your initial end user in mind. This will help you avoid the temptation to design for your team’s benefit rather than your users’. 
 
 
Kate White is the Co-founder of Design Build Legal, a consulting firm dedicated to working with law firms and legal departments to innovate their services, making them more transparent, efficient, and data-driven. She specializes in launching innovation teams and strategic plans, conducting Client Insights Interviews to identify opportunities to enhance service, and applying people, process, technology, and data in new ways to design valuable legal solutions. Kate holds a J.D. from Seattle University School of Law, and is the Co-host of Legal Ops Rising, a podcast bringing the voice of legal operations to the forefront. 
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Meet the Chair of the New England Regional Group, C.J. Juhasz
This September, we continue to introduce ACC Legal Ops leaders' from around the country. Meet Meet C.J. Juhasz, Chair of the New England Regional Group and Assistant Vice President, Law Strategy and Operations at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

One thing most people don’t know about you.
I play hockey in a mom’s league…I just started learning a few years ago.  Our first team name was “Chicks with Sticks”!  Hockey is a nice representation of what we do in legal ops on a daily basis…blocking, checking, backing one another up, moving fast and shooting for tough goals! 
 
One thing you’re excited about in your role as chair.
I received great support and encouragement as I was getting “up and running” in Legal Ops and I thought it appropriate to give back.   
 
Name one of the Group’s past accomplishments that you’re most excited about.
The New England Group is a wealth of knowledge and support…a regional POWERHOUSE! 
 
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Events in September and October

View all upcoming ACC events here
 
September
Date: September 5 at 11:00 am (EDT)
Topic: Optimizing Internal Resources - Paralegal Development
Interest Group: Internal Resource Management
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
  
Date: September 10 at 3:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Deep dive into KM tools. Building KM Tools
Interest Group: Process, Project & Knowledge Management
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register

Date: September 12 at 2:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Best Practices for Managing Outside Counsel
Interest Group: External Resource Management
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register

Date: September 16 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT)
Topic: DEMO: What End-to-End CLM Looks Like (Conga)
To register click here

Date: September 17 at 1:00 pm (EDT)
Topic:  Demo: How Contract Works is Transforming Contract Management (ContractWorks)
To register click here.

Date: September 17 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Change Management
Regional Group: Mid-Atlantic Regional Group (In-person @ ACC)
To register click here

Date: September 18 at 3:00 pm (EDT)
Topic:  Records Retention Enforcement: Best Practices & Lessons Learned
Interest Group: Information Governance & Discovery
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
 
Date: September 19 at 1:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Metrics Journey Series (Presented by Antonio Workman of Uber)
Interest Group:  Metrics & Analytics
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
 
Date: September 23 at 11:00 am - 1:30 pm (EDT)
Topic: Major Meetings Around Legal Departments
Regional Group: New England (In person @ Liberty Mutual)
To register click here

Date: September 24 at 2:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Driving Down the Cost of eDiscovery (PREX Presentation)
To register click here

Date:  September 24 at 3:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Dashboards
Interest Group: Tools & Technology
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register

Date: September 26 @ 10:00 - 12:00 p.m. (EDT)
Topic: Change Management
Regional Group: Toronto-Buffalo (In-person @ BMO)
To register click here

October
Date: October 2 at 12:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Legal Operations for Small and Mid-Size Departments:
  Challenges & Strategies
To register click here

Date: October 3 at 11:00 am (EDT)
Topic: Demo: Internal Social Recognition Program (Presented by Workhuman)
Interest Group: Internal Resource Management
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
 
Date: October 3 at 3:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: To be determined
Industry Group: Health Care Manufacturing
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register

Date: October 8 at 3:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Using OneNote to Develop Contract Playbook (Presented by Larry Cohen of AARP)
Interest Group: Process, Project & Knowledge Management
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
 
Date: October 10 at 2:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: External Resource Management Checklist
Interest Group: External Resource Management
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
 
Date: October 15 
Inaugural in-person Legal Operations event in Frankfurt (Germany).
This conference leverages the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model framework to learn through peer discussion and benchmarking about how to accelerate innovation.
Contact globalservices@acc.com with questions, or register here
 
Date:  October 16 at 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (PDT)
Topic: Roadmap: Why They Are So Critical
Regional Group:  Silicon Valley (In person meeting @ Intel Corp)
To register click here

Date: October 17 at 1:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: Metrics Journey Series (Presentation by Joe Pung of Prudential)
Interest Group: Metrics & Analytics
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register

Date: October 22 at 3:00 pm (EDT)
Topic: FastTrack - Accelerated Contract Review Using AI
Interest Group:  Tools & Technology
Email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to register
 
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Highlights from the ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements Page
The ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements tab tracks the best items to keep you well informed - following are some highlights so mark your calendars! 
 
Since January I’ve seen striking consistency in my conversations with in-house leaders in larger enterprises across North America and Europe. Everyone is trying to re-think and advance their legal function. This is Part 1 of a two-part series focusing on leading digital transformation in Legal by E. Leigh Dance [ALM]. 
 
An initiative to develop a standard language to describe legal matters across the industry has named Microsoft Corp. as its first official user. [Big Law Business]
 
Many corporations are facing unpredictable events or drivers happening outside an organization that can be either negative or positive, but present greater volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), which makes it more difficult for leadership to make decisions. [Law.com]
 
We are adding more hand-picked items all the time - be sure to bookmark or subscribe to http://www.acc.com/legalops/news/.
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How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
There are many ways to get involved with and contribute to the ACC Legal Operations community and raise your professional profile. We would love to hear your ideas, learn and collaborate together!
  • Join the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model 2.0 working group. Things are evolving fast and we are excited to take the acclaimed model to the next step. The Interest Groups are already making updates, and we are seeking volunteers to join the team to update Change, IP, Contracts, Financial & Compliance Management.
  • Participate in or start a Regional Group to build relationships through in-person interaction. 
  • Champion the Legal Operations function - the ACC Legal Operations LinkedIn Showcase page offers peers, in-house counsel and others in the legal ecosystem leading practices shared among our members.  Help show off the value of legal ops professionals - follow it to get updates, share and tweet articles (#ACCLegalOps).
  • Let us know if you would like to be featured in or author an article in the ACC Legal Ops Observer, the ACC Docket and the LinkedIn Legal Ops showcase page (a package deal!).  
  • Be an Ambassador – many GCs are curious about the rise of legal ops, and we are communicating best practices at ACC Chapter events. We even have a “Legal Ops 101” deck you can use as a template. 

Email us to get involved - with offers to share your know-how, suggestions or any questions! LawDepartmentOps@ACC.com.

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Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!

Join now to get access to resources, participate in any of the Interest Groups, and use the online Member Forum for ad hoc benchmarking and referrals. The ACC Legal Ops section is active throughout the year, adding resources, conducting benchmarking studies, and providing webinars by legal operations professionals, for legal ops professionals. 

For more information, visit www.acc.com/legalops or contact LawDepartmentOps@acc.com

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Contributing Editor:

The Power of Design Thinking to Improve Client Service
Meet the Chair of the New England Regional Group, C.J. Juhasz
Events in September and October
Highlights from the ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements Page
How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!
Our Mission
The Legal Ops Observer is devoted to reporting on issues important to the members of the ACC Legal Ops section— from the challenges they face to best practices that work, to how members effectively implement innovation within their individual companies and define the future of legal ops across the industry. Follow the ACC on Twitter at @ACCinhouse #ACCLegalOps.
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