In the fourth and final part of our four-part series looking at the principles and tools involved in legal design, Legal Design Engineer, Charlotte Baker, highlights some examples of legal design in action.
I’ve described the basics of legal design but it’s always easier to understand something when you have a few examples. Here are some real-life examples of legal design in practice.
Case study 1: Comic Contracts
Robert de Rooy, founder of Creative Contracts [https://creative-contracts.com/], has come up with a novel way of conveying the terms of a contract – contracts drawn almost entirely as pictures, in a comic-strip style.
Initially, a ‘comic contract’ was created for farm workers, when working as contractors during a harvest. Many of these workers were not able to read their contract properly, so the written form of the contract was basically meaningless for them. The farm workers would probably just sign the written contract, without having read or understood a word of it (like many of us when we blindly agree to website terms and conditions!).
Drawings are a fairly universal way of conveying meaning – using story-telling instead of cold contractual clauses. In this case, the drawings of the contract showed the workers’ roles and obligations when working on the farm. The farm workers could see themselves in context in the drawings, they were shown what was expected of them, and the key terms were included in the drawings (like when to ask for leave and how they will be paid). They knew what work they were required to do and understood their legal position.
Since then, they’ve developed 12 different types of comic contracts which more than 2,500 people have signed.
Case study 2: Privacy Policies
In the wake of the new rules under GDPR, many organisations have updated their privacy notices.
As mentioned above (see ‘WHY DO WE DO LEGAL DESIGN?’) the GDPR more or less creates a legal requirement for user-friendly privacy policies. With this in mind, Juro went about a full-on redesign of theirs.
Check out the final product here [https://juro.com/policy.html] and note the smart use of layering, icons and timeline. This solution improves the understanding of Juro customers, website users and their own team of their data protection position, whilst also improving stakeholder engagement and increasing traffic to their website.
Case study 3: Lease Data Service (Wavelength)
One of the staple tasks in a law firm Real Estate team is reviewing a lease and preparing a summary of it for a client. In many law firms, lawyers summarise several leases at a time, and often dozens of them within tight timeframes. The process of reviewing a lease involves manually reviewing each lease, highlighting relevant parts and then typing up the findings into a summary report document – requiring a few hours of work for every lease.
Wavelength worked with a team that was keen to improve this workflow, not just for the efficiency benefit, but also to enable the firm to accept deals involving much larger volumes of leases. In order to cut the time it takes to review each lease, we analysed each and every step in the process, removing unnecessary steps and considering not just the primary task but whether we could improve the supervision task as well.
We designed a solution that does the first half of the work and leaves the last half to the lawyers using a ‘work package’ we specifically designed to help them do the task quickly. We performed detailed analysis and produced a ‘gold standard’ process with several hundred steps, many of which we have been able to automate. It is the cumulative effect of many marginal gains and design elements that creates the benefit.
What does the ‘work package’ contain?
(1) the ‘Marked Up Lease’, which is the lease itself but with all the relevant clauses highlighted. This type of document is what the lawyers would usually produce themselves, but the highlighting has now been done using technology. The lawyers can glance at the lease to make sure all the relevant clauses have been picked up, providing certainty and confidence in the technology and acting as a visual verification that the technology has captured the relevant elements.
(2) the ‘Draft Lease Report’, which is a Word document showing the extracted clauses, alongside the relevant heading of the Report and the space for the lawyer to write their analysis. This document makes writing the Report faster and easier, with all relevant information in one place and with less need to flick back through all the pages of the lease. If there is a need to flick back through the lease, we have inserted a method to cross-reference between the Draft Lease Report and the Marked Up Lease. One of the columns also contains guidance for the lawyer about what they should be looking at and the level of detail that should be summarised. The design also speeds up supervision because the document contains the text extracted from the lease directly alongside the work of the junior lawyer.
This client’s own analysis reveals that using the work package reduces time input by 50% to achieve the same result.
Ultimately, the goal of legal design is to improve legal practice and create better experiences for people dealing with the legal system. Now that you know what legal design is and the basics of how to do it, we hope you’ll embrace legal design in your organisation!
Read the full series
Charlotte Baker is a Legal Design Engineer at Wavelength.law - the first regulated legal engineering firm in the world, based in Cambridge and London and operating globally. As a Legal Design Engineer, Charlotte applies creative and design thinking to the law; which includes using these approaches to focus on the user experience in the legal processes and solutions that Wavelength develop. Charlotte is also an experienced commercial and corporate lawyer, before becoming a Legal Design Engineer, she worked in-house as a lawyer at the BBC and Cambridge Assessment, and in private practice at the law firms Allen & Overy (the Netherlands) and Chapman Tripp (New Zealand) where she specialised in mergers and acquisitions, equity capital markets and general commercial and contract law