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From Lawyer to Legal Designer

Our Legal Design Engineer, Charlotte Baker recently made a career move – from Lawyer, to Legal Designer. Let her tell you about it....

Searching for a career change

For a year or so, I’d been searching for a career change.

I’d practised law (corporate & commercial) for about five years – done a good job, worked internationally and in the Magic Circle, and had some great experiences along the way. But I felt something was missing.

On the one hand, I knew I needed a change and I didn’t see myself in a purely legal role. But, on the other hand, I didn’t want to throw away all that valuable legal experience and the time and effort I’d spent in the legal industry.

I’m not that picky

After a lot of soul-searching, toing-and-froing and long-winded discussions with friends and family, I came up with the main requirements for my career move:

Requirement #1: Building on my legal experience

I didn’t want to give up on the law – instead, I wanted to capitalise on my legal training and experience and use them to take myself in a different direction. I also wanted to continue doing work that was analytical, complex and problem-solving. 

Requirement #2: Using my creative brain

I wanted to engage my creative and visual side. Even though I didn’t realise this for the first 20 odd years of my life, I’m a visual learner. I see things so much more clearly when I can draw them out – see how things relate and flow together. Drawings, mind maps, timelines.

Requirement #3: Working with people

I wanted to work with people – collaborating, in teams, with high energy. I thrive on discussing, brainstorming and feeding off other people. I’m always more effective when collaborating with others than doing a task on my own and I understand things better when I can talk them through with someone.

Requirement #4: Making a difference

This was the big one. I wanted to do something that was beneficial to society and that made a difference to people. I knew that law was an ideal place to achieve this. Law intimately affects people’s daily lives but is also ripe for improvement – many aspects of law are old-school and hard to understand (even for lawyers!), so there are endless opportunities to make the law better for people who come into contact with it.

Easy, right?! Just 4 really specific, idealistic criteria…

Finally, I found it!

Soon enough, I found what I was looking for: Legal Design.

The whole point of Legal Design is to improve how people interact with the law – to make it more accessible and easier to understand. Legal Designers rethink the delivery of legal services. Using a human-centred approach, we design and build legal services that meet the needs of the people they’re intended for.

Here’s how Legal Design met my requirements:

  1. I’m building on my legal experience. A Legal Designer needs to be able to understand and interpret the law, as well as recognise what legal industry clients want to achieve. It’s problem solving with both a legal hat and a creative hat on.  Becoming a Legal Designer has allowed me to capitalise on the years of valuable legal experience I’d gained, and take a career “side-step” instead of a step down.
     
  2. I’m using my creative brain. I’m creating and building innovative legal solutions. Legal Design involves imagining new solutions that might meet people’s needs – a creative process that involves ideating, prototyping and iterating. We get hands-on visualising solutions and applying legal technology and legal data.
     
  3. I’m working with fantastic people.  One of the core principles of Legal Design is collaboration – co-creating solutions with users and stakeholders, to make tailored solutions that meet their needs. At Wavelength.law we run collaborative legal design projects – engaging in workshops and sprints with clients, feeding off each other's ideas and building designed legal solutions.
     
  4. I’m making a difference.  Perhaps most importantly, I’m improving the law. Making the law more user-friendly, intuitive and accessible for people. Legal Design is founded on empathy – putting yourself in the shoes of users to design new legal products and services to meet their needs.  The law can affect people so personally and profoundly (think employment or access to justice, as examples) – so an improvement in the way law is delivered is bound to have a positive effect on people’s lives.

It’s important to find a career that you feel passionate and confident about.  It can take a bit of time figuring it all out, but I’m excited (and a bit relieved) to have found the wonderful world of Legal Design and Wavelength.law.

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about this post, Legal Design or anything at all 😊

Peter Lee