Stanford, Sights Set on Legal: Part 2 – “Designing” a Legal Industry

by Joseph Raczynski

The Legal Lessons Learned from Stanford Series


Stanford University is fully embracing the legal industry, a historically cautious mover, as a focal point of its innovative solutions.  The industry is primed to evolve through more transformative processes by pairing inventive thought and applied technological advancement to solve niche legal process issues.  Recently at the Emerging Legal Technology Forum, hosted by Thomson Reuters and Stanford University, we learned how and what the school has developed to initiate increased efficiencies in this arena.

In my last post I wrote about how Stanford’s Design School created a better process for Fidelity Investments when it came to driving more customers to create estate plans.  What was most fascinating about the talk was Margaret Hagan from the Stanford Institute of Design perspective and approach.


In her opinion, in any one of these scenarios it is all about collaboration and rapid prototyping.  She set the stage by recommending the legal industry create more “Popups” i.e. brief rapid-fire meetings that have the following:

  • Different backgrounds – people from various perspectives and specialties
  • Innovative spaces – bright, colorful, open rooms
  • Music, force people to stand, uncomfortable chairs, intimate space, white boards, pens in hands
  • Keep the conversation going by saying “Yes and…” don’t worry if this will work or not
  • Concept of “flaring” which is putting all ideas up on the board

Margaret started a Legal Design Initiative to explore new areas and draw out ideas.  Over an eight week period she set up popups with partners like Orrick.  They worked in collaboration targeting teams of JD/MBAs and d.School to come up with fresh concepts.  The goal was to be exploratory.  The benefits to this was that Stanford came away with a host of clever ideas and new projects that could eventually be elevated to the realm of a Lex Machina or SLA, which I will delve into more in the next post.