Was ist Legal Design

Admittedly, answering this question presents me with a certain challenge. I have been involved with the topic of legal design for a long time and at times very intensively, but it still remains difficult to grasp at times. The breadth and variety is huge.

Illustration of a presentation slide. Title: What is legal design? Key points: Legal expertise, research-based design, design thinking, service design, product design, canvasses, visual design, data literacy. The slide is decorated on the left-hand side with a stylised bouquet of flowers in red and dark grey in a light red circle.

Legal design is interdisciplinary. The term encompasses a whole range of methodologies. As the name suggests, they are based on findings from the design sciences; they place people at the centre and design solutions on this basis, but also regularly question what has been found.

A visual representation of the steps in design thinking, divided here into five phases: (1) Understanding customers and their needs (2) problem definition (3) ideation (4) Making a prototype of the selected solution (5) testing the prototype (based on the findings, the next iteration follows.

The two areas currently most present are, on the one hand, design thinking and service design as continuous methodologies for creating significantly better user added value and innovation. They work iteratively and start by sharpening the understanding of the problem. By finding and implementing ideas, they ultimately enable the results to be reviewed and thus create a gain in knowledge. In this way, a solution can be created, usually in several rounds, which creates the greatest possible added value for the target group within the given framework.

On the other hand, the concrete design of solutions is of course also included, for example when contracts are presented in the form of comics[^1] in view of user needs.

The core of the approach here is to utilise findings from other disciplines. For example, design patterns, i.e. tried and tested patterns for solving a specific task, are used in the design process. To the best of my knowledge, these have been incorporated into a law for the first time (albeit still only on a small scale) in the General Data Protection Regulation[^2].

It is just as essential to distinguish assumptions from facts as it is to adopt findings. Design science teaches us that we are often subject to misconceptions. To uncover these, legal design uses standard iterative processes in which a design (usually in the form of a prototype) is created, tested on users and improved based on the findings.

But we must not stop here: Legal design is also a discipline that is still searching for its own boundaries and is constantly evolving. The Legal Design Manifesto (external link), which is also open to comments in the spirit of a continuous learning process, takes up a current, collaboratively developed status of the key points.

Even more exciting than the question of what exactly legal design is or is not, however, seems to me to be where it can be used to good effect. There is a growing body of experience in this area, ranging from completely new ways of accessing the law to, for example, improving contractual processes and notifications.

The following video interview gives an impression (unfortunately only in German) (YouTube, Video is in German only):

Prof. Dr. Axel Adrian und Rechtsanwalt Baltasar Cevc im Gespräch, vor einer Regalwand mit Serien von Büchern und Aktenkladden; links vorne eine Pflanze.
Video interview by Prof. Dr. Axel Adrian (Friedrlich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg) with Baltasar Cevc about the topic: Legal Design—a better access to the law? (image links to YouTube)

[^1]: The best-known project is probably the comic strip labour contracts used for farm workers in South Africa. You can get a first impression on the Creative Contracts website
[^2]: Recital 60 GDPR picks up in sentence 5 that the information can be implemented with the support of standardised icons. Standardisation is important here, because only then does it become a (recurring) pattern