Extended Course Description

The legal system has been called the least innovative part of the modern economy but it is, arguably, an “industry” that is ripe for disruption. The level of legal need is higher than ever, the incumbent providers of legal services are unaffordable for many if not most of those who need these services, and the organizational and technological methods used to produce law and justice are decidedly 20th century. This course aims to communicate the opportunity this situation represents, introduce students to nascent efforts to exploit it, and teach a set of skills that will incline them to seeing possibilities and how to attain them. The course starts with a brief survey of foundational material: creative thinking, law, the landscape of legal innovation, and an introduction to some ideas and techniques of human centered design. We then use this material to look at legal/justice needs and legal innovation in rural America, urban America, and developing countries. The second half of the course starts with lessons in how to move from the identification of a problem to the formulation of creative solutions. We will learn to brainstorm, prototype, and iterate through four cycles of research, prototype, presentation, feedback, and revision as we develop products and services that meet legal needs. The final project for the course will be the development, from identification of needs to a final pitch proposal, of a product, service, procedure, or organization that qualifies as an example of justice innovation.