Design in Legal Education

A visually rich, experience-led collection
exploring what design can do for legal education.

A visually rich, experience-led collection exploring what design can do for legal education.

In recent decades design has increasingly come to be understood as a resource to improve other fields of public, private and civil society practice. Today legal design – that is, the application of design-based methods to legal practice – is increasingly embedded in lawyering across the world.

This new publication brings together experts from multiple disciplines, professions and jurisdictions to reflect upon how designerly mindsets, processes and strategies can enhance teaching and learning across higher education, public legal information and legal practice. It will be of interest and use to those teaching and learning in any and all of those fields.

A conversation between the editors

Emily Allbon

Emily Allbon

Associate Professor of Law
City Law School
Amanda Perry-Kessaris

Amanda Perry-Kessaris

Professor of Law
Kent Law School

Explore the chapters

Service design comes to Blackstone’s tower: Applying design thinking to curriculum development in legal education

by Michael Doherty, Tina McKee

This chapter proposes that the methods and mindsets of service design can be usefully applied to the design of a whole law degree curriculum. It outlines how a team from Lancashire Law School, UCLan, UK, used the Stanford model of design thinking to re-imagine how they could deliver the first year of an LLB programme. This covered the structure of the teaching week, pedagogies and learning communities, and student support.

As this was the first attempt to use design thinking in this structured and intentional way in relation to a general law degree, the chapter takes a very practical approach. It explains how we used methods such as UX research, user personas, ideation, co-creation, and prototyping in the curriculum design process. We reflect on what we learnt from the experience; that this is a positive and energising way of working with colleagues, that it generates innovative ideas that are centred on the needs of students, but that it does not lessen the volume of work or the challenges of implementing novel ideas across a large law school.

This was an ‘all in’ end-to-end service design project, but we propose that the flexibility of service design lends itself to the use of individual methods, alone or in combination with others, to re-think a wide range of regular activities that take place within a law school, from open days and induction to assessment and graduation.

Michael Doherty is Professor of Law, and Associate Head of the Law School, at Lancaster University. His main areas of teaching and research are constitutional law and human rights and he is author (with Dr Noel McGuirk) of Public Law (3rd edn, Routledge 2022). His key interests in higher education are in the role of design thinking and visualisation. He co-created the Connecting Legal Education online community in 2020, and is a previous chair of the Association of Law Teachers. He was Director of Teaching and Learning at Lancashire Law School, UCLan for 15 years and is responsible for pedagogic development at his present law school. He is a former winner of the Routledge Teaching Law with Technology, ALT Conference Best Poster and Best Joint Paper prizes.

Tina McKee is passionate about teaching law to students from all backgrounds and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in both Law Schools and the legal profession.  She is committed to research in legal education and strives to make a difference to all those she teaches. Service design provides a creative way of thinking about legal education and curriculum development. Tina is Course Leader for Year 1 students on the undergraduate law courses at UCLan.  She is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and was an institutional nominee for a National Teaching Fellowship in 2020.

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