• LPS :: The VLS Course

    Legal Problem Solving (LPS) is a Vanderbilt Law School course in which students use

    21st-century methods to design creative solutions to 21st-century legal services delivery problems.

    LPS is part of Vanderbilt's Program on Law and Innovation.

    Course Overview

    "The traditional law practice business model constrains innovations that would provide greater access to, and enhance the delivery of, legal services." This finding, a key part of the American Bar Association's 2016 Report on the Future of Legal Services, confirms that innovation in the delivery of legal services is both necessary and inevitable to meet the needs of ALL legal services consumers. Specifically, the Report recommends, "[t]he legal profession should partner with other disciplines and the public for insights about innovating the delivery of legal services."


    Legal Problem Solving acts on this recommendation. Starting from a historical context for the current state of legal services delivery, this course introduces human centered design thinking and other proven creative problem-solving constructs to provide a client-centered focus for creating innovative and effective methods of delivering legal services to a wide range of consumers in the 21st century.


    To borrow from Professor JB Ruhl's syllabus for Law 2050, this is an unusual law school course — by design. The forces shaping legal services delivery — the very forces that will shape professional opportunities for today's law students — are not adequately addressed by the traditional law school curriculum. This course seeks to fill in the gaps, to give soon-to-be lawyers the tools, methods, and processes required to meet client needs while designing sustainable, healthy ways of practicing law.

    Human Centered Design Thinking

    The primary lens for work in this course is Human Centered Design Thinking ("HCDT"), a fluid framework for discovering problems, ideating solutions, and iterating to continuously improve solutions. HCDT provides a methodology for considering both legal service delivery challenges, as well as clients' legal problems. The HCDT method also serves as a tool individual law students can use to craft a rewarding, successful legal career.


    Ultimately, this course is about doing, creating, and making — from the client's perspective. The reading is front-end loaded, as the required texts help explain tools, methods, and concepts we will use to "do" collaborative legal problem solving as the semester progresses.


    In addition to the course texts (see LPS :: THE RESOURCES for a reading list), course content includes class-wide and small group discussions, guest speakers, presentations, creative problem-solving exercises, and a capstone design challenge. The collaborative capstone design challenge requires students to use HCDT and other methods to create relevant solutions to real challenges faced across the legal services spectrum.


    The course uses technologies leveraged by creative teams across disciplines, including Slack for all class communication, Trello to manage collaborative projects, and Google Drive (Docs and Sheets) for all written assignments.


    This course also has this website/blog, where we will share student blog posts and other writing projects over the course of the semester. We also will introduce additional technology tools relevant to work in this course AND the practice of law, including mind-mapping apps, presentation apps, and workflow management tools.

    Learning Outcomes

    Students will learn to creatively solve legal problems as well as complex legal services delivery problems. They will develop and exercise their empathy and curiosity muscles — critical skills for a successful career in the 21st century. They will learn and hone collaboration and communication skills, specifically the skill of delivering and receiving feedback. Students will become comfortable in experimenting with and using a wide range of technology serving the 21st-century law practice.

    Ultimately, students will understand and be able to apply Human Centered Design Thinking and related tools to THINK LIKE A CLIENT and BE CURIOUS, and to creatively solve clients' legal and service delivery challenges while simultaneously crafting a personally rewarding and sustainable legal career.

  • LPS :: The Process

    Design thinking. Design doing.


    the tools and methods of human-centered design thinking and other creative problem-solving constructs

    For context, we'll do a deep dive into the current state of the legal profession, to understand the range and scope of service delivery challenges faced across the spectrum, from access to justice challenges to BigLaw struggles, and everything in between.


    From there, we'll engage in a series of readings that introduce the tools of Human-Centered Design Thinking, providing case studies and concrete examples of how these tools can serve to solve a myriad of legal services delivery challenges.


    We also will hear from experts in the fields of legal design, agile project management, and legal tech, as well as design thinkers from other disciplines.


    with design thinking and other problem-solving tools, to learn how they work in the real world

    In each class session, we'll undertake hands-on design and creative problem-solving activities and challenges, to learn how design thinking and other methods really work in the wild.


    Students will get comfortable using the core elements of design thinking (inspiration, ideation, and iteration) to solve problems.


    In-class experiments focus on tools used throughout the design thinking process, including journey maps, the five whys, expectation maps, personas, storyboards, service blueprints, the business model canvas, and more.


    real solutions to real legal service delivery challenges faced today by real clients

    The course culminates in a capstone design challenge undertaken by students in small teams. Following a pitch session (during which students brainstorm and identify specific legal services delivery challenges they want to solve), teams will use class and team working time to move through the phases of design thinking to create a solution to their "How might we ..." challenges.


    The capstone design challenge serves to coalesce the various elements of understanding and experimenting proceeding it, and will draw heavily on collaboration and communication skills that are integral to real-world problem-solving.


  • LPS :: The Resources

    A curated list relevant to delivering legal services, educating lawyers,

    and designing a sustainable and aligned life in the law. In the 21st century.

    The LPS reading list, circa fall 2017.

    The list of possible books for this class is very long. (Too many books, not enough time!) For this iteration, we've narrowed it down to the following. We'll read all of some, and parts of others.


    Creative Confidence / Tom Kelley, David Kelley


    The Design of Business / Roger Martin


    This Is Service Design Thinking / Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider


    How To Make Sense of Any Mess / Abby Covert


    The Dance of the Possible / Scott Berkun

    Books we wish we had time to read.

    It's possible some of these books will be referenced in class lectures and discussions. Prof Moon certainly will encourage students to engage with them all. This list will grow over the course of the semester.




    The Art of Innovation / Tom Kelley


    Business Model Generation / Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur


    Change by Design / Tim Brown


    The Designing for Growth Fieldbook / Jeanne Liedtka, Tim Ogilvie, Rachel Brozenske


    The Non-Designer's Design Book (Fourth Edition) / Robin Williams


    The Service Startup / Tenny Pinheiro


    The Service Innovation Handbook / Lucy Kimbell


    Sketch Thinking / Jose Berengueres


    Solving Problems with Design Thinking / Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, Kevin Bennett


    Sprint / Jake Knapp


    The Strategic Designer / David Holston


    Typography for Lawyers (2nd Ed.) / Matthew Butterick


    Universal Methods of Design / Bella Martin, Bruce Hanington


    Value Proposition Design / Alex Osterwalder et al.





    Creative People Must Be Stopped / Dave Owens


    Gamestorming / Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, James Macanufo


    The Sketchnote Handbook / Mike Rohde


    Strategic Play / Jacqueline Lloyd Smith, Denise Meyerson, Stephen J. Walling


    Thinkertoys / Michael Michalko


    Unfolding the Napkin / Dan Roam





    A Whole New Mind / Dan Pink


    The Achievement Habit / Bernard Roth


    Competing Against Luck / Clayton Christensen


    Daring Greatly / Brené Brown


    Designing Your Life / Bill Burnett, Dave Evans


    The Dip / Seth Godin


    Drive / Dan Pink


    Learned Optimism / Martin Seligman


    Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die / Chip Heath, Dan Heath


    Make It Stick / Peter Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel


    Mindset / Carol Dweck


    Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World / Donald Sull


    Start with Why / Simon Sinek


    Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard / Chip Heath, Dan Heath


    Thinking, Fast and Slow / Daniel Kahneman


    Yes, And / Kelly Leonard





    If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating / Alan Alda


    Fierce Conversations / Susan Scott





    The Anxious Lawyer / Jeena Cho + Karen Gifford


    Beyond Happiness / Ezra Bayda​


    Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work / Chip Heath, Dan Heath


    Eat, Move, Sleep / Tom Rath


    How to Stay Sane / Phillippa Berry


    The Miracle of Mindfulness / Thich Nhat Hanh


    10% Happier / Dan Harris



    Human Centered Design Guides + Toolkits

    The following guides/toolkits offer general, accessible introductions to "doing" human centered design thinking, to create solutions to challenges both big and small.


    A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking / Stanford's d.school


    Bootleg Bootcamp / Stanford's d.school


    Collective Action Toolkit / Frog


    Design Sprint Kit / Google


    Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit / IDEO


    Human Centered Design Field Guide / IDEO


    Teachers Design for Education / The Business Innovation Factory



    Open Law Lab / Stanford


    Legal Design Lab / Stanford Law School + d.school

    The state of the legal profession, circa 2017.

    A primary point of this course? To design solutions to some of the most vexing challenges facing the legal profession today. Want a taste of what those challenges might be? Dig into this list of curated readings.


    The state of the legal profession/market (reports):

    Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States (2016) / American Bar Association

    Law Firm Benchmarking Report (2017) / Exterro

    Law Firms in Transition (2017) / Altman Weil

    Business of Law Survey (2017) / Aderant

    Report on the State of the Legal Market (2017) / Georgetown Law's Center for the Study of the Legal Profession

    Legal Tracker LDO Index (2017) / Thompson Reuters

    Amplifying the Voice of the Client in Law FIrms (2017) / Lexis Nexis


    Prognostications on what the future holds (or should hold) for lawyers and the legal profession (articles and videos):

    Robot doctors and lawyers? It’s a change we should embrace. (2015) / Daniel Susskind

    Upgrading Justice (video) (2016) / Richard Susskind at Harvard Law School

    Legal Demand 3.0 (2017) / Jordan Furlong

    The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to legal Services? (2016) / James M. McCauley

    The Future Is Now: Legal Services 2.017 (videos of conference talks) (2017) / IL Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism - 2Civility

    Should Tech Training For Lawyers Be Mandatory? (2017) / Bob Ambrogi

    Are Lawyers Really Luddites? (2017) / John Alber


    Well-being of law students and lawyers (research):

    Suffering in Silence: The Survey of Law Student Well-Being and the Reluctance of Law Students to Seek Help for Substance Use and Mental Health Concerns (2016) / Organ, Jaffe, Bender

    The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys (2016) / Krill, Johnson, Albert

    The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change (2017) / National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being

    The Lawyer Personality: Why Lawyers Are Skeptical (2013) / Dr. Larry Richard


    And some more food for thought on innovation in the legal profession:

    Innovation in Organizations, Part I (015) (2017) / Bill Henderson

    Innovation in Organizations, Part II (016) (2017) / Bill Henderson

    Innovation in Organizations, Part III (017) (2017) / Bill Henderson

    Design Thinking: User-Driven Legal Process Design Could Radically Change Delivery of Services (2016) / 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

    A Successful Legal Change Management Story (027) (2017) / Bill Henderson


    And more general food for thought:

    In the AI Age, "Being Smart" Will Mean Something Completely Different (2017) / Harvard Business Review



    LPS Course Tools

    Embedded in LPS is a requirement that students experiment with technology as part of the problem-solving and collaboration process. To this end, we'll be using the following tech tools in our course workflow:


    Slack - for all course communication


    Trello - for all team projects


    Google Drive (Docs / Sheets) - for all assigned writings and team projects


    Coggle.It - for mindmapping exercises


    Students also will be introduced to numerous other technologies that support collaborative and creative work, including video, presentation, and workflow applications

    Design Tools

    Online platforms to create custom design tools, including journey maps, personas, service blueprints, practice model canvases, and more:


    Canvanizer - create specific types of canvases / blueprints (e.g. service design, project management), or start tabula rasa


    Smaply - create personas, journey maps, stakeholder maps


    Practice Model Canvas - create a new legal service (or improve upon an existing one) with this canvas

  • LPS :: The Blog

    Thoughts, musings, and ruminations on designing ways to solve legal problems
    in the 21st century.

  • The Podcast: A Curious Lawyer

    Join us for conversations with and about curious lawyers.

    Curiosity? It makes us better problem solvers.

    Curious people also tend to exhibit greater emotional well being. In fact, intellectual curiosity is a high predictor of 11 key dimensions of well-being.


    Peruse The Resources section of this site and perhaps you'll draw the conclusion (as Prof Moon has) that cultivating curiosity in lawyers may help us solve some of the most vexing challenges we face, both as a profession and on a very personal level.


    So what is a curious lawyer? Why and how does one cultivate curiosity? Why should we care?
    We'll tackle these questions (and much more) in riveting conversations with curious lawyers from around the globe.


    (Curious about your own curiosity quotient? For insight into your curiosity profile, take this quick assessment via Harvard Business Review.)


    Podcast episodes will be posted here, and hopefully, in all other places podcasts are found. As soon as Prof Moon figures out how to do that.

  • The Social

    Prof Moon (@inspiredcat) on Twitter ... sharing (mostly) about design, diversity,
    blockchain, and poetry.

  • LPS :: The Prof

    Prof Moon is in charge of this website. Question, problem, etc.? Contact her.

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