What we learnt from organizing the first exhibition of legal design in Paris
Taking a design approach to creating our legal design exhibition.
The idea of an exhibition for legal design sparked back in May 2018 when we set up the Paris office of Dot.
If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit our office in Paris, it’s in the beautiful, inspiring and holistically designed “well working” space called Kwerk — where every object and experience is designed for wellness, thus efficiency at work.
When we realized that Kwerk was part of Paris Design Week, the decision was made. So, in June, we had the venue and we knew which concrete projects we wanted to showcase, but that was about it to be honest. And so we thought to ourselves, why not also take a design approach to creating our first legal design exhibition.
Designing the guest experience. Rather than starting from examples of supporting materials which could fit the venue, the team had a first brainstorming session as to the type of experience we wanted to provide to our guests.
Legal Design is a buzzword and we wanted our guests to not only see but also touch, feel and try by themselves what it is that we actually do, and how. The design brief was settled to be an “immersive & accessible experience” showing not just the outcomes but also the process and learnings, and providing many different easy ways to test, try and get into action.
Bringing the “legal design trees” to life. Before the summer, we hired a talented Finnish furniture designer, Aleksandr Pukki, to create the supporting materials for our projects. Emma had done a great job putting together some inspiration, which looked like this:
At that stage, we had a preference for the right-hand side supporting materials, and loved the idea of a sea-through fabric to illustrate the various outcomes of the projects as well as symbolise the transparent nature of legal design. However, as we discussed details with Aleksandr, trees became the more obvious choice, to enable seeing the projects from various angles and perspectives (like how law should be viewed), but also to seamlessly integrate with Kwerk’s lobby and its vegetal library. Favoring user experience, and the possibility to actually go round each project and fully immerse oneself in it, we went for Aleksandr trees.
But that was really just 10% of the work — only we hadn’t realized it then! After the summer break and only a couple of weeks before the D-day, it was rapid fire: designing the content to be featured in each of the branches of the trees. Meera and Marie worked on the text while Emma designed the posters. Each of the 72 pieces of content was prototyped and reiterated at least 5 times — both from a textual and visual perspective before we were satisfied that they not only clearly communicated the respective legal design project, but also holistically complimented one another.
The learning curve here? Er, build in more time! And, do not underestimate the importance and time taken to settle the fine details.
On the merits, the focus was on how we had framed the problem, how the process went with several workshops and users’ feedback, what concrete results looked like of course but also the intangible outcomes of each project. Beyond the new contract or the new process, all of our projects trigger some form of transformation at the client’s end: gaining more insights in users’ preferences to deliver a better service in other areas, creating a holistic brand experience for the company’s contracting parties, reinforcing client engagement at a key relationship moment…
Incidentally, we also had to find the right printing house, able to deliver A2 and A3 formats which would be rigid enough to keep straight on the branches. After several unsuccessful tries, we simply asked for help from people with experience in the field… Kwerk is absolutely on top of organizing events and one of its clients had some very large prints in the lobby during a specific event. They kindly asked their client the name of the print house and the talent of Solubis did the rest — in no time.
Easy learning there: when you don’t know, ask people who do or collaborate with those who do.
Designing 2 to 7min accessible exercises for everyone to test what empathy with the user feels like. The immersive approach implied some live testing and doing, while bearing in mind that most guests would not stay the entire evening and probably would not have more than 5 to 10mn to dedicate to some exercises — especially after a long day.
We came up with very short activities (2 to 7mn), just to give a glimpse at a user profile, user journey an empathy mapping. It also had to fun and engaging, so we made up 3 inspiring users: Vincent the sales pioneer who wants “results, results, results”, Clément the product development geek who lives for the “XR6-expanded”, which is so much better than the “ZT54” and Susan the board member, who requires strategic, innovative, top-notch advice on complex issues in 3 bullet points and 5 minutes.
The challenge? “I need to close this deal urgently, please confirm everything is OK from a legal standpoint, asap.” Picking one of the users, guests were invited to map out their user journey when asking that question and getting the answer. And some guests played the game!
Learning from previous events, we kept speeches minimal and simply had each team member sharing his or her legal design journey in a couple of minutes.
Which projects did we exhibit?
A digital-native influencer agreement helping a global cosmetics brand doubling down on digital. By leveraging the natural way of doing business for influencers, i.e. a social media page, we are bridging the gap between traditional legal tools (the “hell couple” email+Word) and the needs of modern business in a millisecond world.
An international arbitration process made easy to understand, user-friendly and optimized for on-the-go lawyers. The webpage we designed for the Finland Arbitration Institute provides an easy-to-navigate timeline and shows all but only information users want to know: how much, when and how.
A human-centric pension notification letter which leverages a deep and authentic understanding of pensioners needs and fears to provide care and support.
A prototype card game inspiring and empowering women to fully exercise their rights on a daily basis. To tackle lack of confidence or awareness of the full extent of women’s rights, we designed a set of cards which women can keep in their purse or pocket, hand out to help others or to stop a difficult situation.
We also wanted to highlight the density of all the insights we gain during the legal design process. For us, the value of our projects does not only lie in the end result, but also in everything we learn about users’ needs and expectations — which is precisely what enables legal innovation, beyond “shiny tools”.
Our main takeaway of that evening? We loved seeing all of our guests’ happy faces looking at contracts! Satisfying legal user experience — at last.
On a more personal note, what happened in Paris to our small team delivering big projects? We stressed about the presentations, worked really late, carried heavy stuff, talked with people and just had fun. We are a hands-on team. Literally: the whole team had blisters in their hands from mounting and dismantling the trees. Bleeding for Legal Design. 200% worth it!
Photo credits: @Antoine Muller