Legal services design is here to stay, but wait… What is service design?

There is a phrase that I love and it is the following: "Before running you have to learn to walk" and in any case crawl, is a recurring phrase in my articles.

In this sense, I would like to start this article by emphasizing the definition of service design or better known as "Service Design", and for this we are going to break the definition into small pieces: "... A service is a system of people, processes and goods that satisfy needs through the exchange of value "[1] And that's why today we hear more and more about system design, but we'll talk about it another time.

So if we say that a service is a system of people, who is part of that system? I consider that this answer will depend a lot on the type of sector in which that system intends to operate, it can be the IT sector, the agro-industrial sector, the telecommunications sector or the legal sector, which is the one that interests us for the purposes of this article.

In the case of the design of legal services, the answer is more than obvious, the actors in that system are mostly lawyers and I say mostly because new actors such as data scientists appear - and are better integrated into that ecosystem. , designers (logically), engineers, developers, among others. The allegory that best exemplifies the design of services - legal and non-legal - is that of the theater and here you can visualize it and I will proceed to explain the role played by both the actors of the front-stage and the support team in the backstage.

Imagine you go to the theater. You place your armchair, you sit down and bang! Blackout in the room. A light cannon is lit onto the stage, the curtain opens and an actress dressed as a Viking appears and begins to sing. The play ends and you are surprised by a handful of emotions that have gone from laughter to tears. Then, they allow you to visit the backstage and you run behind the scenes to discover that, to achieve all those sensations, it took not only the 7 actors on stage, but also a team of technicians in lights, sound, costumes, makeup and others, that get to be almost 50 people "[2]

And of course that also happens in any organization, whatever it is; Likewise, let us remember that organizations do not offer a single service, but two, three or more, such as telecommunications companies or the same airlines, and not to mention legal services, misnamed - in my personal opinion - only firms of lawyers, why?

The answer is simple, I say that they are misnamed "just law firms" because:

  1. By calling them that, we classify them in that the service is created only by lawyers, which is not necessarily the case and it would not have to be so strictly and for that point I have many reasons, but I emphasize that of interdisciplinarity. Due to the sole fact that accounting - except for small cases - is carried out by a certified accountant, or the firm's software, is always carried out by an engineer, in very few firms there is the figure of legal engineering[3], I only know 5 real and very good ones.
  2. By calling them that and limiting it to the “lawyer” field, we do not endow law firms with that quota of humanity and service that they are supposed to have and / or should have, some few firms have it, in others, it is halfway there and there are those in which that sense is non-existent. Aren't our "clients" at the end of the day supposed to be people with emotions and feelings?
  3. By calling them that, we are not contemplating the service with a holistic perspective where all the actors intervene in its co-design and co-creation, on the contrary, we are again pigeonholing it as it is thought and devised by lawyers for a client who may also be another lawyer Well, usually it is another lawyer who represents the interests of the client, the counterpart, the people, except in some systems that with enough limitations allow legal self-representation in certain cases, but that is another story, in general lines The service provided by law firms is thinking by lawyers for lawyers and not for the recipients or those who are ultimately impacted by the decisions of their representatives, the people.
  4. By calling them that we indicate that the only thing that law firms do is legal assistance, but we emasculate other interactions of the service and other services that complement the legal services that the law firm in question can provide such as procurement, representation, which is not what The same as mere assistance in many cases, automation of procedures, collection of defaults, design of various documents and documents, negotiations, among many others that occur to me and those that are missing.

Under this perspective, then we do not have one, but several actors involved in the design and operation of the legal system, which in turn is made up of various services. In any case, we can redesign the concept of "law firm" for that of legal services and give that concept more content and impact, the one it really has and the one that corresponds to it. Along these lines and according to the definition cited in the first paragraph that indicates that these people create and / or design artifacts or products, the next question would be what exactly do we design, what do the actors of the legal sector and law firms design? ?

Acting service design allows you to design or intervene on a variety of objects and can influence or create change on a variety of levels[4] I love this brilliant definition of Lucy Kimbell because it is so accurate, in the sense that it introduces another important term which is "behavior change", as did one of my Behavioral Scientist mentors, Matt Wallaert, in his book Start at the end[5], agrees and I also agree that when we intervene in the services and products and / or artifacts that they imply in the end, what is sought is to generate a change in people's behavior and although that change is not sought, in some way or otherwise a good product, device or service will impact some behavior of the people for whom it was designed or redesigned.

Since we talk about the impact of technology and taking advantage of fashion "The social dilemma"[6], a series that I highly recommend and that will be the subject of another installment, in fact service designers and even more so legal services designers have the “enormous responsibility” to be clear about the following issues:

  1. What do we design or redesign?
  2. Who do we design or redesign for?
  3. Why do we design or redesign?
  4. What is the impact that my design will have on the ecosystem?

And the analysis could continue, but at least those four points seem basic to me because they delimit the north of a designer in general and in the case of legal designers or those who intend to start in that career, I would add a fifth point which would be:

Does the design or redesign of my products, artifacts or services contribute to or facilitate access to justice? The scale of this point will depend on the area in which the legal designer exercises his practice, as it can be broader or smaller depending on Wherever you provide your services, however the golden rule in fashion applies here: "Less is more", the simpler and more limited your solution is, because much better, we are all looking for the "Eureka moment" when what we should do is to go solving or at least trying to design or redesign and solve everything that surrounds us and that we consider can improve and this is already a final conclusion: I lean more towards redesign-I explain it better in this article[7]- and “EVERYTHING HAS OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT” and I put it in capital letters because perhaps not all of us will be able to have that “Eureka moment”, but at least we will have been useful, we will have served and contributed to improving the ecosystem in which we participate.

The third point of the definition refers to the fact that the products, artifacts or services that we design seek to satisfy the needs - of the people - through the exchange of value, I leave it for a next article because there more doubts arise and it is better to disaggregate the definition and the tools that are currently available, which are many to design or redesign the legal services we provide to make them more accessible, attractive and usable for people, who at the same time generate and contribute to achieving a more just and humane society.

[1] "So, like, what is service design?" - Shahrzad Samadzadeh- Medium   

[2] Service Design: the journey towards innovation that your company needs- Rethink-Medium

[3] Hybrid profiles for digital lawyers- Karol Valencia-Medium

[4] LDoc Keynote. Lucy Kimbell on Designing For Services: Past Moments and Possible Futures

[5] Wallaert, M: Start At The End: How to Build Products That Create Change

[6] The social dilemma trailer-netflix

[7] Legal design journey map: What it is, how it arises and where are we going-Karol Valencia-Medium


- Advertising Notice-
Karol valencia
She works as a Legal Project Leader and Legal Services Designer at eID and also works as a Service and Innovation Designer at Lawcus-LPM. He develops private consulting and focuses on projects and services with a holistic perspective through his Karol Valencia brand (worldwide and remotely) and is Head of the Community at Eye Z Legal (India). She is an active member of the Institute for Internet & The Just Society, also works in the #Barpocalypse project for the redesign of legal education in the US and is the ambassador in LATAM of ILSA (Innovative Law Studies Association). As a polyglot, you work on the translation of various technical documents, articles, books, articles and more when requested or simultaneously translated as an interpreter at events. She is a lawyer from the Universidad Católica San Pablo, with postgraduate studies at the PUCP, and has a law degree from the UEM in Madrid, Spain. With training in digital transformation, innovation, programming and design in "En Estado Beta", "Iron Hack" and "Interaction Design Foundation"; In a self-taught way, he participates in communities such as Legal Hackers Lima, PsychoLAWgy and others, in addition to different volunteer jobs. Former professor at the UPN. Facilitator and international speaker at Legal Design & Legal Tech. Activist on mental health issues. He currently collaborates with columns and blogs such as: The Crypto Legal, his Medium account, and Impact Lawyers. He believes in redesigning the legal system to achieve better access to justice for all. Contact:


1,954Happy fans


*All fields are required
es Spanish