Wavelength at Legal Design Geek

Legal Design Geek

By Charlotte Baker, Legal Design Engineer at Wavelength.law

Last week I attended the first ever Legal Design Geek conference in London.  The Legal Geek team pulled out all the stops and assembled an A-list of legal design movers and shakers.

The event was a more intimate setting than the Legal Geek conference the day before, which meant I was able to listen to every presentation and meet a host of inspiring people working in the legal design field – including legal designers working in law firms, in-house teams, as entrepreneurs and independent consultants. 

There were some brilliant speakers who presented on everything from the fundamentals of legal design to amazing case studies on topics such as developing engaging visual contracts, transformed privacy policies (that people actually want to read!) and visuals to support the narrative of court cases. I was in my element.

Lessons from real-life

I was honoured to be asked to speak on the main stage.  In my presentation, I considered 4 key lessons from a recent legal design project that Wavelength delivered for one of our clients – the global legal business, DWF. 

We worked closely with a legal team at DWF that regularly review very large medical records during insurance litigation proceedings for person injury claims – from a legal design perspective, this group of lawyers and paralegals were our “users”. 

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What was their Challenge?

These medical records are huge – often spanning 300+ pages long and each lawyer/paralegal in the team can be handling 50+ cases at any given time.  They are looking for particular key words in the medical record and it’s a time-consuming and often tedious exercise.

What was the Solution?

We worked with the users to produce a solution that allows them to review these large medical documents in a faster, more engaging way.  Here are a few of the design features we developed:

-          Layered approach: the solution sits as a layer on top of the medical record itself highlighting the key words and dates whilst still allowing the lawyer to review the primary materials.

-          Colour-coding: we categorised 5 “themes” of search terms and assigned each of them a different colour which is then applied throughout the medical record.

-          Word cloud: on the cover page there is a “word cloud” showing the top 10 most prevalent words found in the medical record. 

-          Time spark: we graphed the dates that appear on the same page as a word of a particular theme – this starts to tell a story about what’s going on in terms of timing in each of the themes.

-          Navigation bar: we created a navigation bar so that the user can be directed through all the key words across the medical record.

-          Content summary: we generated a linked document summary showing what was found on each page of the medical record, so the user can jump to specific pages.

What were the lessons?

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This project highlights some key lessons in legal design.

1.       Keep the user at the centre

Design should be led by what the users tell us.  You may have loads of cool ideas, but they are useless if they do not meet the needs of your users.

We worked closely with the lawyers and kept their needs and challenges are at the forefront of our minds throughout the design process.  We developed a solution that ensured the users could still review the original medical record but made it so much easier to navigate the content and see the issues.

2.       Lead with an understanding of the problem

This is Wavelength’s mantra!  Find out the crux of the problem for your users and design to fix that specific problem.

3.       Keep it simple

The best solutions are the most simple and intuitive.  There is no point making something high-spec and sexy, if in practice it doesn’t make life easier for your users.

In this case, simple colour-coding drastically improved the ability of the user to make sense of the information and direct their attention to the essential information.

4.       Take small steps

This solution is a step in the right direction – it has improved the current situation.  We have lots of other ideas to take it further, but we need to start simple, test with our users to make sure the design works for them, take feedback, iterate and improve.

This solution has the potential to make a significant and positive impact.  What is exciting is that there are many other potential applications for this approach.  It can be adopted anywhere users are dealing with significant volumes of dates and search terms and suffering the burdensome task of reading through significant quantities of information.  By getting to the crux of the problem, unlocking the user needs and applying the right design thinking, technology and data science – the opportunities are endless! 

If you want to chat more about legal design or this case study, then please do get in touch!