STANFORD, Calif., February 2, 2016 – The Stanford Center on the Legal Profession announced today that it has launched a new initiative called the Legal Design Lab to make the law and legal services more useful, user-friendly and engaging.
The Legal Design Lab will serve as a hub for academically rigorous research on legal design, looking in particular at how various stakeholders in the legal system interact with and experience the legal system. Unique among U.S. law schools, it will engage students with legal design through project-focused courses working with outside partners, and it will serve as a project incubator for new models of legal services.
Based at Stanford Law School, the Legal Design Lab will be led by Margaret Hagan, JD ‘13, a fellow and lecturer at Stanford Law School who also lectures at Stanford’s Institute of Design (known as the “d.school”).
The center will incorporate “design thinking” in its work, putting consumers at the center of the legal models it is building. “The goal is to get students exposed to the pressing challenges in the legal profession and to give them ways to work directly with legal organizations to develop new kinds of legal services and ways of working,” explained Hagan.
“Technological change is altering the delivery of legal services in profound ways,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, dean and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. “I hope our Legal Design Lab will train our graduates to be leaders in harnessing this technology to improve the efficiency and fairness of the legal system.”
“Rapid globalization, technological innovation and an expanding justice gap throughout the world economy are pressuring the legal profession to simplify the way it provides legal services,” said Deborah Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession. “Technology and innovation are of limited help if the system remains opaque and complex. Applying human-centered design could provide access to the legal landscape to many who are not currently served by the law.”
Hagan has been working with students on user-focused research and the design of new legal products and services since 2013. She also leads workshops to train legal professionals in the design process, to produce client-focused innovation. Legal Design Lab projects include:
- Court Messaging System – An out-of-the-box tool that lets any court or legal service provider send text messages with information, reminders and coaching to people going through the legal system
- Reimagined Pro Bono – A project that uses technology to rethink and expand how law firms and corporate legal departments provide pro bono legal services
- Better Internet for Legal Help – A working group that promotes a coordinated system of service providers, tools and interfaces that allow laypeople to find legal help online
- Navocado – An online legal navigator for pro bono lawyers representing undocumented minor children in the immigration system
In addition to offering classes and workshops on such topics as expungement, estate planning, and reimagining the law firm model, the Legal Design Lab has a cohort of student fellows who work actively on projects throughout the year. Plans call for offering a one-year post-juris doctor fellowship in legal design beginning next fall.
The Legal Design Lab has received foundational support from corporations and law firms, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Orrick and Seyfarth Shaw.
About the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession
The Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, founded in 2008, supports research, teaching, programs and public policy initiatives on crucial issues facing the bar. Central concerns of the center include how to enhance access to justice, sustain ethical values, improve bar regulatory structures, and effectively respond to the changing dynamics of legal workplaces.
About Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.