LPS :: The VLS Course
Legal Problem Solving (LPS) is a Vanderbilt Law School course in which students use
modern methods to design creative solutions to 21st-century legal services delivery problems.
LPS is part of Vanderbilt's Program on Law and Innovation.
"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.
The primary lens for work in this course is Human-Centered Design ("HCD"), a fluid framework for discovering problems, ideating solutions, and iterating to continuously improve solutions. HCD provides a methodology for considering both legal service delivery challenges, as well as clients' legal problems. The HCD 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 HCD 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.
Students learn to creatively solve legal problems as well as complex legal services delivery problems. They develop and exercise their empathy and curiosity muscles — critical skills for a successful career in the 21st century. They learn and hone collaboration and communication skills, including the skills of delivering and receiving feedback. Students 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 (mindsets and processes) 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
the tools and methods of human-centered design and other creative
For context, we 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 engage in a series of readings and conversations that introduce the tools of human-centered design thinking and systems thinking, providing case studies and concrete examples of how these tools can serve to solve a myriad of legal services delivery challenges.
We also hear from experts in the fields of legal design, agile project management, and legal tech, as well as design doers 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 (empathy inspiration through discovery, ideation, prototyping, and iteration) to solve problems.
In-class experiments focus on tools used throughout the design 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. In the Fall 2018 iteration of LPS, students collaborated with VUMC students and staff and engineering students to redesign informed consent for surgical patients at Vanderbilt Medical Center, resulting in a case study in the volume Health Design Thinking. In the Fall 2019 iteration of LPS, students worked with local pro bono and legal aid organizations to create access to legal information, understanding, and services through human-centered design methods.
In 2021, student teams will be designing the project plan to solve this challenge: How might we design a civil justice system that enables everyone to get access to the information and effective assistance they need — when and where they need it —and in a format they can use?
A cohort of students will carry the project into 2022 as part of the Legal Design Studio, housed in Vanderbilt's innovation center The Wond'ry.
The capstone design challenge serves to coalesce the various elements of understanding and experimenting proceeding it and draws heavily on collaboration and communication skills 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/listening/watching list.
For the 2021 iteration of Legal Problem Solving, we're going fully open source for our read/watch/listen list. I'm curating a collection of podcasts (adding the Spotify playlist shortly), videos, and readings that are freely available at no cost to students.
Stay tuned for the evolving open source list, to be shared here.
Books we wish we had time to read.
Many of these books will be referenced in class lectures and discussions. Prof Moon certainly will encourage students to engage with them all. This list is constantly evolving.
DESIGN / DESIGN THINKING / PROBLEM SOLVING:
The Art of Innovation / Tom Kelley
The Book of Beautiful Questions / Warren Berger
Business Model Generation / Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur
Change by Design (2019) / Tim Brown
The Design of Business / Roger Martin
The Design of Everyday Things (Revised and Expanded) / Don Norman
The Designful Company / Marty Neumeier
Don't Make Me Think (Revisited) / Steve Krug
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 Innovation Handbook / Lucy Kimbell
The Service Startup / Tenny Pinheiro
Thinking with Type / Ellen Lupton
This Is Service Design Doing / Stickdorn et al. (website)
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.
CREATIVITY / STRATEGY:
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
JUST PLAIN GOOD BOOKS EVERYONE SHOULD READ:
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
CARE AND FEEDING OF LAWYERS:
From Army Strong to Lawyer Strong: What the legal profession can learn from the Army's experience cultivating a culture of resilience (Link to PDF) / Paula Davis
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
MichiCouThe 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
Teachers Design for Education / The Business Innovation Factory
Open Law Lab / Stanford
Legal Design Lab / Stanford Law School + d.school
Law by Design, The Book / Margaret Hagan (Stanford Open Law Lab)
MAP x GAP Strategies for User-Informed Legal Design / Michigan Advocacy Program
The state of the legal profession.
A primary point of this course? To design solutions to some of the most wicked 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
Profile of the Legal Profession (2020) / American Bar Association
Profile of the Legal Profession (2021) / American Bar Association
2021 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer: Moving Beyond the Pandemic / Wolters Kluwer
Law Department Benchmarking Report (2021) (Executive Summary) / Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)
Law Firms in Transition (2020) / Altman Weil
Report on the State of the Legal Market (2021) / Georgetown Law's Center for the Study of the Legal Profession
Report on the State of the Legal Market (2022) / Georgetown Law's Center for the Study of the Legal Profession
State of the Industry Report (2021) / Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC)
EY Law Survey (2021) / EY
2021 Legal Department Operations (LDO) Index / Thompson Reuters
Amplifying the Voice of the Client in Law FIrms (2017) / Lexis Nexis
The state of access to justice and the law (reports and journals):
Justice Needs and Satisfaction in the US 2021 / IAALS & HiiL
Daedalus: Access to Justice (2019) / American Academy of Arts & Sciences
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 Is Now: Legal Services 2017 (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):
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
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.
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
The Podcast: A Curious Lawyer
Join us for conversations with and about curious lawyers.
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.
LPS :: The Prof
Prof Caitlin (Cat) Moon is in charge of this website.
In addition to teaching Legal Problem Solving, she teaches courses and workshops in
law as a business, legal operations, technology and data, and leading innovation to
law students at Vanderbilt and practicing attorneys via Vanderbilt Law's PoLI Institute.
She also is the Director of Innovation Design in the Program on Law and Innovation (PoLI) at Vanderbilt Law,
and Director of The PoLI Institute, bringing innovation curriculum to practicing legal professionals.
Question about any of this? Please contact her.
Legal Problem Solving © Caitlin "Cat" Moon