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Becoming Tomorrow’s Lawyer: Through the Medium of Design in the Context of Climate


 


This blog post is written by LDS Guest Writer Humzah Khan, Programme Manager at The Chancery Lane Project. Click the button below to learn more about and connect with Humzah.



 





If you’re an aspiring legal professional, in other words, tomorrow’s lawyer, these two things apply to you:

 

  1. The impact of the rise in global temperature will dramatically influence your legal career, the advice you give and how you work.

  2. You’re not being taught the necessary skills to effectively respond to (1).

 

The legal education system is very different from the environment in which you’ll eventually practice law. In many ways, they’re at odds with each other. One of the most critical limitations of law school is that there’s less emphasis on collaborative and iterative learning or the flexible skills needed to survive in today and tomorrow’s legal profession.



The Role of Design Thinking

 

Design thinking is a powerful medium through which you can develop the qualities needed for a smoother and more effective landing into real-world practice. Broadly, this approach encourages you to:

  • Collaborate and experiment with people within and especially outside of law. What might you learn from other fields and perspectives?

  • Focus on understanding problems rather than jumping to solutions. What do the problems mean, who do they impact, and why do they exist?

  • Consider and understand the core needs of different audiences. How does this perspective change your views and approach?

 

This might sound abstract, alien, and even uncomfortable at first. However, these tools are easily accessible and will get you further and faster. They’re also essential because lawyers require a natural capacity for design thinking, mostly because their clients expect advice that is tailored to their needs. We know that design thinking increases the value of a law firm to its clients. But it also improves your value within the firm too. This approach will play a major role in your career and the way you work. 

 


Design Thinking in the Context of Law and Climate

 

A useful way to think practically about design thinking in law is in the context of climate change. The skills rooted in design thinking are crucial to responding to systems-level challenges like the climate and ecological crises. When you think about it, nothing is more human-centred than protecting the planet.

 

Law school emphasises memory, speciality and certainty. It places less value on the soft skills needed to navigate complex problems and situations of dramatic change and uncertainty - skills essential for the legal advice clients will expect from you as those changes impact their business in the short, medium and long term.


Take climate change, for example. It isn’t its own area of law. It permeates every area of law, from administrative law to torts to contracts. You probably aren’t taught this at law school, which is a cultural problem in and of itself. What you will know is that climate is a complex issue that increases in severity and poses different sets of risks to different sectors and businesses at different times and in different places. The tensions between objective science, global politics and decision-making models add further layers of complexity to how the law interprets and governs this landscape. 

 

The scale of the challenge means you can’t be a specialist. The complexity demands flexibility and adaptability rather than certainty in the solutions you provide. The pace at which these issues evolve and how the law must respond requires you to keep up and stay ahead at the same time.

 


How to Provide Trusted and Competent Advice to Your Clients in these Conditions?

 

The answer lies in being curious, thinking laterally, and collaborating creatively with those around you – especially your clients. The flexible nature of these soft skills, which can be learned, iterated and improved over time, will help you navigate these conditions more competently - an approach that is ultimately informed by better understanding and embracing the challenges coded within them. 


In other words, adopting a human-centred design mindset. Because the law of tomorrow needs you to think and act differently today.



 


Legal Design School's Legal Design Project Course is a great way to learn more about design thinking and legal design, learn new skills and how to take advantage of these skills in your daily work as a legal professional.


Remember to take advantage of the ongoing relaunch campaign and get a 25% discount on the Legal Design Project Course! Use the code RELAUNCH25 at the checkout to get the discount.



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