Orrick's Summer Associate Hackathon Teaches the Principles of Design Thinking


The training curriculum for Orrick’s 2018 summer class of course included legal writing and negotiation workshops. But this year, it also included a full-day workshop on how to apply design thinking to develop innovative solutions to complex legal and business problems.

In July, we brought our summer associates together for a full-day “hackathon” in New York and Silicon Valley, facilitated by Lucy Ricca, executive director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, and Bill Henderson, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, two of the leading authorities on legal innovation. 

The summer associates hacked two problems that they are intimately familiar with: “How can the third year of law school be improved?” And “How can the law firm recruiting process be improved?” The winning ideas on both coasts involved creating an online repository of firm data, aiming to streamline the summer recruiting process, which many students find stressful, non-transparent and rushed. One team dubbed their proposal: “The Firmbook.”

Roy Strom, who wrote about the hacks in his American Lawyer column The Law Firm Disrupted, noted: “The summers came up with a good idea as a result of the design sprint-hackathon. It is a good example of a very efficient way for a law firm to problem-solve.”

Orrick’s Chief Talent Officer Siobhan Handley explained to the American Lawyer that “this kind of thinking, being creative, coming up with unique solutions, is an absolute necessity for the practice of law now. And I think it’s teachable, even though it’s not taught in law schools now.”

The firm plans to work with the law school and law firm communities to explore implementing these ideas.

Additional coverage of the hackathon in Bloomberg Law.