Learn about Legal Design Thinking in 1 day!

On Saturday 22 April, 11 Law, IT and Design professionals came together above the roaring North Sea on the Pier in Scheveningen, for a workshop by Visual Contracts on how to revolutionize the way we see law. For Visual Contracts it was a final pilot before launching the platform and community. During the day we chose to focus on one of the companies that could potentially lead the way in exemplifying legal design thinking: CoolBlue.

Coolblue is a Dutch web shop, founded in 1999, that is focused on selling consumer electronics. It is a big player in The Netherlands and one of the reasons for this is its focus on a transparent and playful way of communicating to customers. Nonetheless, they could bring their privacy statement to an even more transparent and human friendly level, by using Legal Design Thinking. With this workshop we took the first steps into that direction.

Using design thinking to build customer relationships

“The way most companies currently put privacy statements on their websites is mostly done by just addressing legal requirements, instead of making it a way to differentiate and use it to build customer relationships” is what Lieke Beelen, founder of Visual Contracts started with, in her introduction at the start of the day. “However, by designing a privacy statement in a user friendly way, you can actually earn consumers’ trust and prevent yourself from falling behind your competitors in a world that becomes more transparent every day.”

Legal Design Thinking workshop

The workshop then continued with a question. Can you actually design a transparent privacy statement, with visuals for example, without losing the nuance of legal language? To answer this, Lieke invited Bob Groeneveld, designer and PhD researcher from the TU Delft, to take the group on a speed course on Visual Thinking. By introducing techniques on how to quickly draw your thoughts in a communicative manner, he was able to show and teach how you can include anyone already at the beginning of the process of creating a legal document.

The lawyers who were familiar with drawing, told us they already used drawings for the schematic ordering of complex thoughts (‘a triangle represents a foundation’). With visual thinking however, you learn how to visualize stories in a context. This brings certain ideas to life which can be really helpful when you need to explain these complex thoughts to laymen. (But just to start we also learned how to make kick ass drawings of people, legal concepts and cats too, so that by the afternoon, within 2 hours, everyone was able to draw with surprisingly great skill!)

Designing a transparent privacy statement

After diving into the necessary visual thinking skills, the afternoon started with a luxurious lunch (salmon!) and an introduction into privacy statements. For this introduction, Judith Vieberink from First Lawyers explained privacy statements, how they come to be and how tricky parts often trigger discussions on what to and how to communicate. For example, do you only specify the category of companies that you share your data with, or are you going to list them in detail? Or which aspects are more informative for people who are unaware about their privacy? Or the opposite, how do you communicate privacy statements to highly privacy-conscious people?

Using these insights we could finally combine our knowledge to prototype a new privacy statement for Coolblue, with the helpful guidance of Lieke Beelen. In different Legal Design Thinking teams, we got down to brass tacks and asked ourselves 3 questions. ‘What is a privacy statement?’, ‘What data does Coolblue want?’ and ‘What does a consumer want from Coolblue?’ By visualizing the answers and brainstorming on different solutions, each team in the end created a design document that was visually sound, but still consisted of real legal talk.

Visual Thinking

Disruptive Legal Innovation

As the day drew to a close, the wind outside calmed down and a sun broke through, creating a beautiful view from our space on the Pier. Inside the space, the group felt positive about what had been accomplished during the day. Caro Mennen (lawyer at Pellicaan lawyers and advisors), one of the participants described what she’d learned during the day as follows: “Visualisation really can contribute strongly to understanding complex matters and is not applied enough in legal documents”. Another participant added: “It really disrupts your normal way of thinking!”

And we couldn’t agree more.

Now let’s see if Coolblue agrees as well. We’ll follow up with a sketch proposal for the privacy statement of Coolblue, so keep following us here or join our community.

Want to learn about Legal Design Thinking yourself? Sign up for the workshop!