The Legal Business Design Challenge

The Legal Business Design Challenge is a program that discovers pressing needs in the legal business ecosystems and assembles teams of students, practitioners, legal business leaders, and other disciplines to address real-world challenges. The program provides an immersive learning experience where teams don’t solve pre-defined problems, but actively identify, validate, and prioritize problems that will impact a business that delivers legal services – law firms, legal aid organizations, in-house counsel and other legal service providers.

The goal is to accelerate the generation of unique insights, analysis and ideas relating to the creation of new types of legal services and practices – from the more traditional to the truly innovative.

Course Highlights

  • Law firm practitioners & professionals embedded directly in the course
  • Cohort-based: teams comprised of other students plus practitioners
  • Students explore and work on a real business opportunity or challenge the firm is facing
  • Direct interactions with corporate counsel teams


For each edition of the Legal Business Design Challenge, we partner with an organization who demonstrates a commitment to advance and innovate the practice and business of law.  We call these organizations the Innovator-in-Residence (”IIR”) because they are committing to a year long partnership with the Legal Business Design Center and because they have a track-record of trying to make change happen for their clients and themselves by experimenting with new service and business models – regardless of their success or failure.  Students interact directly with IIR employees and leaders.  Often the IIR embeds members of their team within the student teams – working side-by-side as peers.   This experience provides the students access to people, processes, technology, and systems that drive legal service businesses. This is the invaluable experience few lawyers have let along law students. It is common for the IIR to learn as much as the students do through this experience.

Output from a business design challenge?

Organizations benefit by being exposed to new ideas that they may decide to pursue in some way in order to generate competitive advantage or organizational value.

Student Teams are required to consider and evaluate their challenge response by:

  • Applying qualitative and quantitative measurements
  • Creating insights through substantive and conceptual analysis
  • Demonstrating their solution is valid, feasible, and desirable for the client organization

2020-2021 Innovator-in-Residence: Baker Donelson

2021-2022 Innovator-in-Residence: Troutman Sanders