Legal is a very traditional and conservative field of work, so combining lawyers and Design Thinking may not be something people would instinctively do. On the other hand, law professionals deal directly with people, regardless of what field they are in. This is why Design Thinking is becoming popular amongst the legal industry, with lawyers using the method as a competitive advantage.
For this issue of the Echos newsletter, I had the pleasure of interviewing our Design Thinking Experience and Service Design Experience participant – and Legal Project Manager at Herbert Smith Freehills – Mollie Tregillis.
RG – Hi Molly, thanks for taking the time to speak to Echos. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
MT – I am from Melbourne (and am one of Melbourne’s biggest fans except when it comes to the weather). I finished my schooling in Singapore, so I also have a crew of awesome international friends scattered around the world. I’m a lawyer by training but have now moved into legal project management (LPM) which suits me really well. I am a total people person, so love any work that involves working with others – and I also love coming up with creative ideas and solutions to problems at work and in my home life. I love Pilates and am training for my teaching Diploma. I also love art, music and excellent food and wine. I live on the North side of Melbourne with my partner and step-son.
RG – What does your day-to-day is like ar work?
MT – I sit within a legal practice group at HSF and work with the lawyers to deliver top-notch client service. This involves many things from dedicated legal project management on large matters and projects, to helping build LPM capability within the teams, to problem-solving for the teams and clients. No two days look the same!
RG – In your opinion, why is innovation important in the legal field?
MT – The legal market is changing very rapidly, as are our client’s businesses, so we need to be able to provide the type of service expected in such a fast-changing environment. More than this, we want to be creating new products and services for our clients to help them respond to the rapid transformations going on within their own businesses!
RG – When was the first time you heard about Design Thinking?
MT – When my LPM team members were talking about it at team meetings (quite a few of them have done the Design Thinking Experience) and when we used some of the principles to help cement our team’s purpose and identity within HSF. I then went to the Design Thinking open day in Melbourne and was hooked.
RG – You have attended Echos’ Design Thinking Experience and Service Design Experience courses. How do you think the knowledge you brought back to your company can positively impact your industry?
MT – Where to begin? There is so much in both Design Thinking and Service Design that will have amazing impacts for the legal industry. From the Design Thinking perspective, getting lawyers to use more of the Design Thinking magic in their day to day can only be a good thing. We are seeing this start to happen and it is so exciting to see things click for the lawyers in terms of embracing a fundamentally different way of thinking and problem-solving. In terms of Service Design – this is really exciting as we look at how to truly provide our clients with an amazing service experience when they come to us – this involves being proactive about their needs and trying to solve their problems and complex issues before they arise, rather than just helping put out fires once they exist.
RG – That is really interesting! If you were to list them, what would your biggest learnings be after taking our courses?
MT – The power of a truly human centred approach. By this, I mean throwing out assumptions and actually fundamentally drilling down to uncover what your end user needs and wants (and also learning tools to do this well) and testing this with your users. Also for me, I think a big learning was getting comfortable to sit with the uncertainty before the insights are found and as the ideas are developing, and trusting that something good will come out of it (and if it doesn’t, iterate!).
RG – Did the courses make you learn anything new about yourself?
MT – Something fundamentally new to my world view is that there is very likely more than one ‘right’ answer to a problem (this is not what we learnt at law school). I initially found the way data is collected challenging (and a bit scary) because I was worried that we might have ‘missed’ something, but when I realised that there might be a range of different solutions to the same problem, I trusted the data gathering process more and relaxed a bit. Also, I’ve realised that I’m quite good at the ‘empathy’ bit and that being a sensitive soul (which I’ve often seen as a hampering quality in the legal industry) actually provides me with a really valuable set of skills in understanding other people and helping get to the bottom of problems, in a very human-focused way.
RG – Are there any projects that you have already applied either Design Thinking or Service Design methodologies to? If so, tell us more about them.
MT – We’ve been doing some really exciting Design Thinking projects at HSF, including my passion project, which is an Innovation School with my practice group, where we are running groups of lawyers through the Design Thinking process with problems of their own choosing. The solutions are going to be pitched soon to the whole practice group. I’ve seen the prototypes and they are really interesting. Also, the engagement and enthusiasm from the teams have been amazing.
RG – What pearls of wisdom would you share with someone who is starting their innovation journey through Design Thinking?
MT – Dive in! Just do, don’t over think.
RG – Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
MT – It has been really stimulating (I love learning new things) and the skills and mindset are really filtering into my everyday work.
RG – Finally, could you share a quote that inspires you?
MT – I’m not very good with quotes (I have a mortal fear of cheesiness) but something that always sticks with me is the motto at my high school which was ‘There is more in you than you know’. This has certainly proved true for me time and time again.
If you would like to share with us your own experience with Echos, send us an email expressing your interest. If you would like to be a contributor to the Echos’ Blog, submit here your 500-700 words article on Design Thinking, Innovation, etc., and we’ll be in touch.
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