Law for 'normal people'

Over this past fellowship year, I've run so many workshops and pop-up classes on how to make law more engaging and usable for "normal people". People with legal problems or who aren't highly educated are not alone in this "normal" bucket. People with PhDs, highly paid professionals, even law school graduates fall into this category as well -- they want and need legal tools and processes that are built for "normal people". That's not to say these people want everything dumbed down. But they don't want to use an exhausting amount of brain power to just figure out how to get from A to B in the world of law.

No one -- except some supernormal lawyers -- really enjoys the status quo of densely textual legalese and byzantine process that you must go through to get a legal problem solved.

So now, in the post-workshop phase of my fellowship, I'm sifting through all the findings and putting together patterns that can guide new families of legal product and service design. Normal People Law

Normal People Law-1

Normal People Law - image 4 - by Margaret Hagan Normal People Law - image 5 - by Margaret Hagan If you have other observations -- from your own experiences, or from people around you -- on what kind of designs of legal products and services would work, send them along. Feel free to post them in the comments or find me on Twitter at @margarethagan.

User-centering your project

Here are some of my quickly-sketched notes on how to make the user the center of any project you're working on. It doesn't matter if you want to employ a full-on "design" approach. I've been listening in classes, workshops and talks about how people keep the focus on the user as they're building and rolling out products as well as what specific deliverables and actions can facilitate this. There must be a lot more, I'd love to hear others' tools. If you have them, feel free to message me on Twitter at @margarethagan or in the comments!Notes on Design - Design in PracticeDesign proces notes - user friendly design part 2

LaunchPad sketched: The first class

LaunchPad is among the more well-known d.school classes. It's unique in that it's less focused on learning design thinking and more so on implementation and output. Demand among students to get into the class is high, given that the class stands to help accelerate them and their startup to market. Once teams are accepted, they are confronted with a slew of work and surprises. I went through LaunchPad last year with my app, Law Dojo, and now I'm sitting in on this year's class to sketch out what happens with the current crop of startups and the teaching team. Here's a sketched version of the first class, from earlier this month:

Launchpad Class 1 Intro Launchpad Class  1 PitchesLaunchpad Class 1 Vote Launchpad Class 1 - Debrief of the Pitches Launchpad Class 1 - Values of hte class

My legal design manifesto

This manifesto has been brewing for the past year, since I chose to go down the path of mixing law and design. There are two problems that clearly interrelate: lawyers who are underemployed and unhappy in their day-to-day work, and non-lawyers who do not get quality help to solve their legal problems. But the missing point in most discussions of these legal services crises is the "how" -- how do we scope and solve these problems? That's where design holds so much potential, and why I'm deploying design methods to craft new solutions.Legal Design Manifesto - by Margaret Hagan 1 Legal Design Manifesto - margaret hagan 2 Legal Design Manifesto - by Margaret Hagan 4 Legal Design Manifesto - by Margaret Hagan 5

A design thinker's cheat sheet

guido-post-itsAs an entrepreneur, I have been designing products, services and solutions for most of my professional life. Still, I have never considered myself a designer -- not until now.

So, what changed?

The one concept that has helped me bridge the gap between being "someone who designs" and being a "designer" is this notion of being "mindful of process". This is one of the first concepts that you learn at the d.school. In other words, being "mindful of process" means being thoughtful not only about what work you do, but also how you do it, and more importantly how you can improve your methods the next time you do that same work.

d.school Fellow Guido Kovalskys presents his design thinking "cheat sheet". (d.school, Guido Kovalskys)

So, the long and the short of it is, you too can become a designer. I suggest you try it using these three steps:

#1 - Pick one among the challenges you face daily. It can be as simple as refining the best way to commute to work, or as complex as designing your own methods to put your baby to sleep with minimum crying and maximum speed. Just pick one.

#2 - Develop an awareness for the process you follow to tackle that challenge. In particular, notice some of the changes you've made recently to improve your outcomes. Be mindful about what works and what doesn't, and how you iterate your solutions to make continuous improvements.

#3 - Now comes the hardest part. Say this to yourself: I am a designer.

Done! You are a designer. We all are! Welcome to the club!

Now, becoming a good designer is a whole other ball game. It really takes a lot of practice. Honestly, I am not even close, but I think I am getting better every day.

In the meantime, I am happy to share my own Design Thinking Cheat Sheet. Here it is, I hope you find it useful: