Smarter design for more efficient legal service delivery

The more I think about this challenge, the more I believe it is becoming a design challenge. In particular, I am really interested in how interaction design can be applied to digital risk management to revolutionise our legal and compliance interactions.

Alex Hamilton published a terrific post on the radiant.law blog about addressing legal service delivery inefficiencies. His post is titled “Creating Standards” and, although it is probably aimed more at lawyers, he touches on an important aspect of risk management:

Standard documents are a necessary, if not sufficient, start to fixing the inefficiencies of legal service delivery. For in-house teams in particular, pulling standards together, whether form agreements, playbooks or other tools, can be a real challenge; especially as the day to day reality of “more-for-less” overwhelms long term projects.

I’ve maintained for some time now that effective risk management is more than just about documents. The real value is in the insights that go into how legal frameworks are structured and how they function. Lawyers whose business models depend on selling contracts are going to find it pretty difficult to survive (if they aren’t already). I keep seeing new services popping up online which offer more and more sophisticated legal document assembly options (one of my clients is doing some very interesting work in this space) which are becoming easier to use and much more affordable than conventional legal services.

Developing smarter legal frameworks has a lot more to do with knowledge and information management with an emphasis on smarter solutions. radiant.law is part of a new wave of legal services firms which place more emphasis on value and discarding convention that exists for its own sake. I think my eyes roll involuntarily every time I hear a lawyer object to something I propose merely because what I suggest runs contrary to “the way things have always been done”.

Many lawyers are stuck in mind-numbing ruts. They resort to laborious workflows and document models with little thought about whether they are still relevant or whether there are more effective solutions for clients’ solutions. One of the other blogs I subscribe to is Adams on Contract Drafting through which Ken Adams challenges legal writing conventions and approaches. I find myself reading contracts I receive from other lawyers to review and even many of my older document models and becoming increasingly frustrated with convoluted and repetitive language. One of my mantras at the moment is “simplicity” and each time I work through a legal document, it becomes an opportunity to simplify the wording and structure.

It doesn’t stop there. The process of simplifying your digital risk management extends to technologies you use to manage your resources. I like Hamilton’s suggestions to use search to index and organise; wikis to constantly improve your framework models; treat your legal framework development model like an open source development model and “release early, release often” and, of course, create better standard document models.

Inefficient legal service delivery is increasingly a design challenge. In particular, I am really interested in how interaction design can be applied to digital risk management to revolutionise our legal and compliance interactions. This video titled “Connecting“, below, blew my mind about a year ago. I think it hints at a possible future for the work people like Hamilton and I do.