Global access to knowledge and technology is leading to major changes in existing professions and the emergence of new ones. In pursuit of efficiency, lawyers are becoming Legaltech-engineers, data specialists and blockbusters. Law firms, in turn, are introducing flexible, creative approaches to service provision.

On the other hand, laws that regulate new technologies require organizations to meet standards not only on paper. Companies have to implement technical solutions, create software that meets standards, and move away from the “legal language” in order not to violate consumer protection laws.

New approaches are needed to deal with complex situations. One such innovation is legal design, a combination of design and jurisprudence. Practices unusual for lawyers aim to make users more aware of their rights and needs.

What is legal design?

Explains in Law by design, legal design is the application of human-oriented design in the law.

This approach consists of several aspects that lawyers are used to talking about, but not used to applying in practice:

  • the search for new ways to provide services
  • user-oriented approach
  • introducing a culture of innovation.

Legal design is not limited to the appearance of services – it is only the tip of the iceberg. A lawyer should think like a designer, use the whole design arsenal to put the user at the forefront and come up with the most convenient way to solve his problem. Among the approaches and tools we can highlight the following:

  • Breaking down complex problems into smaller and simpler components.
  • Involvement of users of legal services through surveys and collaborative work with them.
  • Visualization and mapping of users’ needs, interests, expectations and values.
  • Collaboration with people of different professions: lawyers, engineers, designers, marketers.
  • Iteration work: prototyping, feedback and criticism, refinement or abandonment of a prototype. Using critique to improve oneself, rather than perceiving it as a negative user response.

Design-based services help users better understand the rules and make informed decisions. Instead of ignoring the wishes of users, the lawyer involves them in creating personalized services.

Legal Interface

When looking at the case from a consumer and privacy perspective, the legal department or firm must communicate with its users in a clear, concise and accessible manner.

It is not enough to have legally competent documentation. The company must be user-friendly – it must create an interface where data privacy and confidentiality are ensured by the design itself, an interface that allows clients to easily exercise their legal rights.

The company was fined the largest amount for a user interface that did not meet the requirements of the regulator:

  • Google has not provided users with sufficient information about the sources of their personal information, how long it has been stored or how Google creates personalized ads. Users had to look at up to six links and documents to get this information. CNIL found this process insufficiently transparent and clear.
  • The French regulator invalidated the user’s consent to the use of their data. The reasons for this were two facts: (a) the users were not sufficiently informed and (b) their consent was “batch” – users could either agree to all uses of the data they provide or… could not refuse to collect the data.
  • While their consent should be free (with the possibility of refusal) and specific (separate consent for each type of data use).

Interface and presentation to users of their obligations

The principle of transparency in consumer protection laws requires more than just perfect documentation. Standard documents in the “legal language” do not work here. On the contrary, documentation needs to be viewed from a user’s perspective, from the perspective of an ordinary person.

The interface and design of services, especially online services, should not only encourage the user to spend money, but also inform them fully. From a legal point of view, the interface should allow users to make an informed decision. This means:

  • Informing users about services, products and other site features in a simple and clear way. You can use visualization and good examples. As a result, the user must understand all the details and legal consequences of the transaction that he enters into with the provider of services or goods.
  • Providing a real choice. When the user makes a commitment, such as a monthly subscription or sharing information, he should have a real opportunity to give or not give his consent. Whenever possible, the user should have an equal choice whether or not to accept the offer. It is not acceptable to push a person to give a positive answer.
  • A user-oriented interface that gives the user full control over all legally relevant decisions, rights and obligations. Sometimes the design hides the fact that the user can make legally relevant decisions himself instead of demonstrating it.

A good legal design, on the contrary, creates a system in which the user himself controls everything, including the conditions of service.