Design Thinking and Legal Tech Innovation

Last week was the culmination of the 2015 Legal Tech Open Innovation Challenge hosted by Stanford’s CodeX Center for Legal Informatics and Thomson Reuters (in partnership with InnoCentive). The seven finalists—who hail from around the globe—were invited to Stanford for two days’ worth of events. 

The Challenge centered around docket analytics. The solvers were asked to use federal court data, outside data sources, and Thomson Reuters’ PermID to to develop an application that would provide high-value analytics to legal practitioners. At CodeX last Thursday the finalists presented their solutions during a Showcase, after which the awards were announced. 

In the afternoon I ran a legal design thinking workshop for the finalists, the Thomson Reuters representatives, and several CodeX fellows. Two of Stanford’s legal design fellows, Jessica Hudak and Kevin Xu, helped facilitate. Although we had only an hour and a half, we were able to give the participants a crash course in design thinking, and run through the entire process with them focusing on a simple legal challenge: how do we get more people to create wills? The participants jumped in with both feet—exploring the obstacles (both internal and external) to creating a will and brainstorming several creative solutions. 

During our debrief, we discussed how the participants could use these design-thinking tools in the future to tackle challenges inside their own organizations. One participant remarked that he was surprised how much we were able to accomplish in an hour and a half—it was more productive than any 90-minute meeting he’s ever had in the past!

Here are a few photos from the afternoon: