My Legal Design journey: Marie Potel-Saville, from in-house VP Legal to launching my own legal design agency

Leaping into Legal Design

“Home at last”.

That’s how I felt at the Legal Design Summit in Helsinki as I was surrounded by creative, human-centered and action driven legal professionals, designers and technologists from around the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a dreamer or a “wannabe artist”. I love the law and I’m obsessed with quality and results. I’ve always had the desire to seek out ways to do things better and learn new concepts.

I felt I’d found a hidden gem, when I discovered Legal Design. It’s a truly powerful tool when you have no time and limited resources. Simply because starting from the users changes everything. As an in-house counsel, you will no longer be the business fun-police, but someone your internal clients trust and rely on. Even better, your advice, solutions and tools will be easily adopted and implemented, just because the people supposed to apply them will have participated in their definition and setting up. It sounds so obvious.

Now, you might wonder how does a Magic Circle lawyer turned in-house general counsel embark on legal design? Lack of resources and need for greater efficiency is my answer.

I was VP Legal EMEA at a global beauty group, in charge of a team tackling broad legal issues for a portfolio of 28+ brands in 17 affiliates and 30 countries. Doing more with less was the standard, which will sound familiar to many in-house lawyers.

So, I thought “tools” will be my best friends. Automation, AI, bots: anything that could help me be quicker, handle more volume, reduce human errors…LegalTech of course. Great. But, after all this, I was still left with long agreement templates, heavy compliance Powerpoints and “the gap”. You know, that huge space between the law and those supposed to apply it.

Then I realized that a number of reputable scholars at Stanford and Vaasa University had been reinventing the practice of law for a couple of years, aiming at creating legal content that people want to read.

After having voraciously read every article or book I could find, and met the awesome crew of Open Law, off I went to the Brain Factory in Helsinki: a 48-hour legal design sprint facilitated by inspiring lawyers and designers. Exploring, prototyping and…pitching.

My co-designers were half my age and thanks to the LD ideation tools and methods, we thought-up an abundance of ideas to tackle our legal design challenge. The whole process — ideating, co-creating, prototyping and quickly testing made it possible to conceptualize and create clear, usable and engaging legal solutions.

Back at work, I applied the Legal Design approach everywhere I could — from compliance programmes to privacy policy, terms and conditions and even commercial agreements. Workshops, co-creation, focus groups: collaboration with users and designers.

And it worked! Clients were looking at me differently, asking for “more” compliance training (who knew?) and redesigned agreements.

As to launching my own legal design agency, frankly that was a no brainer. I had seen by myself the results provided by the human-centric practice of law, and I just couldn’t do anything else!

Now, check it for yourself: www.amurabi.eu , read, explore: https://www.amurabi.eu/exhibition-pdw2019/and get into action!

Marie Potel-Saville, is the Founder & CEO of www.amurabi.eu. She combines 15 years of private practice and General Counsel experience with her passion for Legal Design.

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