Discovering the legal design thinking, where law meets design


Applying legal design means giving creative answers to users' regulatory needs

In our previous post we introduced the world of legal design, a discipline we presented and analyzed based on the text "Legal design" by Barbara de Muro and Marco Imperiale. The topic of legal design, for us at Aptus.AI, is part of a path we followed to get to know all those issues related to the possibility of making law accessible for those who need to use it, both with respect to technological innovations related to the publication of legal documents - such as machine readable regulations - and with respect to how they are used by their recipients. That's why we are committed to give the right space to legal design as well, being a discipline that is based on the application of design to legal needs, always putting the user at the center in order to make legal contents truly accessible for its recipients.

Previous post

How legal design thinking works: methodology, process and specific phases

As we wrote in the first episode of this mini-series, the keywords of legal design are usability, clarity and inclusiveness. To achieve this, it is necessary to apply the methodologies of design thinking to the legal field, putting into practice a technique that can be called, precisely, "legal design thinking". One essential characteristic of this methodology is to put the user at the center, but there are also a series of precise and well-defined phases to be followed in the creative process that aims to answer legal needs. It is therefore time to analyze the phases of legal design thinking, which involves five well-defined steps, all of which are guided by an anthropocentric approach that always puts the recipient-user of the legislation at the center, as the "starting point and end point of legal design". Before starting with the iterative process typical of design thinking, however, it is necessary to define at least the following elements:

  • objectives, timelines and methodology;
  • preparation of the legal design canva (generic and overall graphic representation of the activity);
  • compose a multidisciplinary team capable of addressing all the needs envisaged by the project;
  • analyze the market to assess whether or not there are already solutions for the targeted challenge.

Only at this point will it be time to proceed with the five phases of design thinking: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test.

Discovering the five phases of legal design thinking

As anticipated, the five phases defined by Barbara de Muro and Marco Imperiale for the process of legal design thinking are a regulatory transposition of the steps typically followed in the development of products and services with the methodology of design thinking. The starting point is always that of empathizing, that is the identification by the designer of the person - yes, a specific person - who is the recipient of the content. To truly empathize with users, it is necessary to define some personas, namely profiles that are as complete and as likely as possible in respect to those who will actually use the service. This makes it possible to understand the user's needs and to be able to guide product development from them, without biases, but rather through direct verification with interviews, surveys and so on. From here it is possible to move on to the step of definition, that is, the identification of the specific need to be addressed. Again, the problem needs to be specified as much as possible with respect to the user journey, that is how the user really relates to that specific activity. It will then be possible to understand (if and) how to solve the user's problems by finding touchpoints between the recipient's needs and possible answers, therefore between problems and solutions. After describing and prioritizing the touchpoints - as tackling too many problems together means not solving any of them -, it is possible to proceed with ideation. Creativity reigns at this stage, but always based on the already gathered information. The work here is conceptual, with no particular technical limitations, but also pragmatic and aimed at feasible ideas, since the next stage is prototyping. Various methods and techniques can be followed at this stage, but the essence is to be able to implement working prototypes of the product - or more likely a part of the product. Anyway, the crucial point is to have something to be tested, the so-called MVP (Minimum Viable Product), which introduces to the last stage of design thinking - testing, in fact. This last step, aimed at validating the solution, is actually another starting point in the process, which is, by its very definition, iterative and (potentially) infinite. Sharing the product to different types of stakeholders - who reflect the personas defined at the beginning -, to let them test it, is essential for gathering feedback to analyze in order to figure out how to proceed. Which paths to follow and which to abandon. Which ideas to pursue and which to revise. And so on. Obviously these five phases need to be declined in the context of legal design, namely in respect to legal contents, but the methodology is almost identical. Certainly the parties involved in solving legal problems will need more specific skills than those developing services that are less complex in terms of content and social impact. At Aptus.AI we know this well, as we have been working for years to improve the accessibility of banking regulations and we have achieved this with Daitomic, our RegTech solution designed for financial compliance professionals.

Daitomic's RegTech story - or how to apply legal design thinking to banking compliance

And indeed there is no doubt that Daitomic represents a concrete and effective application of the legal design thinking process to the field of RegTech. In fact, this Software-as-a-Service platform was created to make banking regulations accessible to compliance professionals who need to consult and analyze them in order to make decisions and develop proactive strategies. As indicated for the empathy phase, the starting point was a detailed study of the process followed by compliance professionals, and then moving on to its optimization through our proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology capable of generating a standard and machine readable electronic format of banking regulations. This innovation can be tested directly by having a demo of Daitomic: all it takes is a click here below!