Challenge Accepted

September 10, 2020
New Richmond Law program launches Legal Business Design Challenge in partnership with Baker Donelson

The University of Richmond School of Law’s new program on legal innovation and entrepreneurship has officially launched with the announcement of the Legal Business Design Challenge. Under the leadership of new program director and faculty member Josh Kubicki, the program seeks to advance design-driven innovation and entrepreneurship capabilities in students, lawyers, faculty, and researchers. Its goal is to accelerate and instigate the building of new business ventures and forward-thinking solutions designed to address critical challenges facing the future of our legal systems, services, and businesses.

The Legal Business Design Challenge is the cornerstone of the first course offered within the new program. The course, Practice Design & Innovation, will equip students with the two critical skills of building a successful professional service offering: 1) defining an actionable evidence-based strategy, and 2) designing an operating model to execute it.

“This new program will have a ‘bias towards action’ wherein we reach beyond the walls of the school to directly engage in the market,” said Kubicki. “The Legal Business Design Challenge is a real-world situation wherein a legal services business, we call the “innovator-in-residence,” presents the class with an actual strategic and/or operational challenge that it is currently considering,” he explained. “Students are expected to conduct research, apply critical thinking and analysis, and use business design methods to develop an actionable and evidence-based recommendation to the innovator-in-residence leadership team.” 

The Legal Business Design Challenge is a unique approach to design innovation in legal services, one that is based on creativity and business rigor. Students will work in teams throughout the course and will actively collaborate with their innovator-in-residence mentors.

Baker Donelson, the pioneering and innovative law firm, is the inaugural innovator-in-residence. Both the chairman and CEO, Tim Lupinacci, and the chief client solutions group officer, David Rueff, are the executive sponsors, with members of the firm’s Client Solutions Group working as mentors to the students.

“We are truly excited and honored to have this opportunity,” said Rueff. “It fits perfectly with our firm’s commitment to advancing our client service approach which always seeks to add quality and value through improvement, innovation and creativity,” he added. “Working together with Prof. Kubicki’s class allows us to tap into the energy and creativity of second- and third-year law students while directly advancing their education regarding the business of law and the current state of the market. Also, exposing our teams to the power of business design is an immensely valuable attribute of this program.”

Bold Duck Studio, the leading legal business design agency, is serving in an advisory role to Baker Donelson as well as the Challenge overall. Given the agency’s unique and seasoned experience in designing new legal service models, their participation helps ensure that the students will have access to proven tools and methods that have been honed and shaped to be most effective in the legal services arena, Kubicki explained.

“Our work, experience, and research continue to advance within the legal business design arena and we are seeing more demand for it from in-house and firm teams,” said Kim Craig, co-founder of Bold Duck Studio. “Partnering with a firm like Baker Donelson and the Practice Design and Innovation class is a no-brainer for us given our commitment to business design; both in applying it and researching the best ways to integrate its value directly into teams and organizations. This project presents a unique opportunity to participate at the ground floor of design education and application in legal education while also introducing design into another law firm.”