Review of the online Legal Design Thinking course

Not sure what legal design is about? I had exactly the same. But following Lieke’s course “Legal Design Thinking”, has definitely demystified this.

June 16, 2022

Not sure what legal design is about? I had exactly the same. But following Lieke’s course “Legal Design Thinking”, has definitely demystified this.

So, recently I have completed the Legal Design Thinking course at the Visual Contracts Academy. The last 10 years I have been working as a legal counsel for SMEs in the metal industry and I was curious to see what legal design is about and how you can put it into practice. It’s been great to learn this from a pioneer in legal design with a great track record. I learned legal design thinking is so much more then adding a hand full of visuals to a legal document.

Lieke will tell you all about it in a series of videos that you can watch in your own time and at your own pace. Theory is mixed with assignments, which is great. Practicing what Lieke teaches you is key to really get the hang of her lessons. So in the course you will have the chance to design a contract yourself, in my case an employment contract.

In legal design, there is a method you can follow to (re)design legal products and services, such as a contract. This method, called the design thinking method, consists of five different steps you can take. Lieke will tell you exactly what you need to do to take these steps. You can tell Lieke has a crystal clear vision on what legal design can contribute to the legal world and she has a lot of experience with the method. I loved that.

Going through all the design thinking steps is educational and a lot of fun. I spend evenings practicing drawing (and no, you don’t need to have a talent in drawing), interviewing users of employment contracts, trying to get clear what problems they experience when closing an employment contract (think of their wish for understandable text or more transparency about their legal position) and make a design plan to create a contract that solves these issues. Then I designed a whole new contract and tested that with employees. Lieke guides you through every step of the way and provides you with a lot of helpful feedback.

There are multiple things I loved about this course. First of all, I enjoyed discovering how non-lawyers look at legal products. This can be so surprising. For instance the users that tested my new contract wondered whether the contract was actually legally valid. I could reassure them a contract that is completely adjusted to the needs of the users, the employers brand identity and contains plain language and visuals, such as timelines, is also fully valid. Also, I loved finding ways to translate the experience of users into a better legal document. It gave me the chance to think conceptually and be creative.

Working out my concept for a new contract was not difficult at all. I used Canva, which is a very user friendly design tool. But you can also use MS Word or just work out your concept in sketches. Whatever suits you best. I am proud of the contract that I made and I want to thank Lieke for her help and guidance throughout. I can definitely recommend this course to any lawyer, but particularly to those who are interested in improving legal products and services by focussing more on the users!

Heleen Knaap
Legal Counsel at Koninklijke Metaalunie