What is the Legal Design Derby?

In teams of three or four during a day-long sprint, law students used human-centered design principles to develop, refine, and present a prototype on Saturday, October 22, 2022 from 9 am – 5 pm in Durham, North Carolina.

Final presentations of the developed idea were reviewed at the Solutions Showcase at the end of the day, and monetary prizes awarded to the teams. Thanks to our guest judge, Herb Brown of LexisNexis (NCCU ’22). 

For promising ideas, participants may receive financial support, academic credit, and other resources in Spring 2023 to build and implement their idea.

The Legal Design Derby is open to all North Carolina law school students and is co-hosted by Duke Center on Law & Tech and North Carolina Central University Technology Law and Policy Center. This program is made possible due to sponsorship from Lawyers Mutual Consulting + Services and LexisNexis.

Why participate?

  • Help to make tomorrow’s legal system better than today’s 
  • Cultivate a deeper understanding of how the pandemic impacted the legal system and access to justice
  • Learn fundamental human-centered design skills that bolster creativity and are a growing part of many professional positions 
  • Develop teamwork skills and connect with mentors, alumni, and stakeholders 
  • Compete for prize money 
  • Have fun! 

The Challenge

How might students and law schools prepare for future paradigm(s) of legal service delivery?

The traditional paradigms of legal services delivery have begun to shift in some states in the last decade, with a particular focus on a need to increase access to justice through reregulation of legal services. Nationally, some leaders are calling for a dramatic reimagining of how legal services are provided, while others are hesitant to change the status quo. Some states such as Arizona and Utah have already implemented changes to Rule 5.4, and other states have developed working groups, task forces, and legislation for additional changes in their jurisdictions.

Of course, the rules do not need to change for lawyers to innovate their practices, and large law firms are also piloting projects to provide scalable advice to a broader range of clients. In other words, new paradigms for legal services delivery are already here. It is imperative that law schools prepare future lawyers to understand the changing landscape. Through a day-long design thinking sprint, the 2022 Legal Design Derby will give law students in North Carolina an opportunity to reimagine how law schools can prepare them to practice anywhere their careers take them.

Traditional Paradigm Future Paradigm
One to One One to Many
Retainer Fees + the Billable Hour Fixed Fees + Limited Scope Representation
Evaluation of services based on satisfaction Evaluation of services based on outcomes
Licensure of attorneys to practice law Licensure of lawyers, paralegals, advocates, and other paraprofessionals to practice law
Self-regulation Independent, non-profit regulation
Lawyer as primary Subject Matter Expert Panel of Interdisciplinary Advisors


Email Kelli Raker at kelli.raker@law.duke.edu or Diane Littlejohn at dlittl23@nccu.edu.