Skip to content

Spring 2025 Seminar

Legal Innovation Through Design Thinking

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Students participating in this Legal Innovation Through Design Thinking seminar will have the opportunity to:

  • work collaboratively in small teams;
  • learn and apply design thinking principles to address a meaningful challenge faced by a specific legal organization;
  • work directly with the legal organization sponsoring the team’s challenge and propose a design-based solution to the organization’s challenge at the end of the semester.

Project sponsors in the past have included the U.S. Department of Justice, a legal services organization helping immigrant children with legal issues; a nonprofit lawyer professional development organization; an HLS Clinic and the HLS Career Services Office. Challenges have ranged from such issues to improving access to justice; designing a better client interview experience; and re-imagining a client’s knowledge sharing platform and systems to dramatically improve and help scale their impact in helping underprivileged clients.

The course will begin with an introduction to innovation and brainstorming in small teams, team dynamics, and preparing teams to innovate together successfully. The goal is to understand what makes for well-functioning teams and how such teams can more quickly and more effectively reach innovative breakthroughs. We will then delve more deeply into the art and practice of human centered design to help teams work with their project sponsors to develop their innovative proposals to address their sponsors’ challenges. The project sponsors will help students understand and frame the challenge to be addressed, and then will provide teams with feedback on prototypes and ideas as the design process of their innovative solution unfolds. Course instructors will coach teams and also help prepare them for their final presentations by building students’ presentation and business idea/pitch skills. Teams will make their final presentations to, and receive feedback from, their peers, project sponsors and a panel of “judges” – outside experts with deep subject matter expertise and experience.