Behind-the-Scenes of an Award-Winning Contract Design: Interview With Dorra Harrar (Tunisia)

contract design Jan 30, 2023

In this exclusive interview with Tessa Manuello, we get to hear from Dorra Harrar, a Tunisian Legal Designer who recently won the prestigious Innovation & Excellence Award by the World Commerce and Contracting for her outstanding Contract Design.

In this interview, Dorra shares her journey and process of creating her winning designs, including how she was able to come up with unique and creative solutions that made contractual information more accessible and at the same time more effective. She also talks about some of the challenges she faced during the entire process, as well as what advice she would give to aspiring Legal Designers looking to make an impact in their field. It's an inspiring story of creativity and hard work coming together for great success! 

We hope you enjoy hearing from Dorra and that her story inspires you to create your own groundbreaking contract designs. As a final note, we also encourage everyone to take the time to learn about legal design - it's an important field that is gaining traction in many countries around the world. So don't miss out on the chance to make a difference in your clients business and life! 

Tessa: Thank you so much Dorra for accepting to share about the work that you do at the intersection of the law and design, especially for contracts. You have recently received an award for the work that you have done in the field of contract design. And so, we’d love to know more about the process behind it, some of the challenges you had to overcome to be able to produce such a great piece of work and the lessons you have learned. So to start, I would like to ask you Dorra to present yourself. Would you like to say a few words about your background and what you do?

Dorra: Yes. Thank you, Tessa. I'm Dorra Harrar, from Tunisia. I'm a business lawyer and pioneer of Legal Design in my country and the EMEA region. I started my journey with Legal Design in 2018, and after one year, I launched my first Legal Design project with a litigation case. And I decided to create my Legal Design company, called Legal D, to improve people's experience of law. The vision of Legal D is to make law more human. And in 2021, I completed my learning journey with Legal Creatives Academy and I became the first Tunisian woman expert practitioner in Legal Design. So, I'm very happy today to share with you my insights about this recent project I did for a client of mine that was recognized with the Innovation & Excellence Award by the World Commerce & Contracting organization.

T: This is wonderful, Dorra! We are so glad you accepted to share. What a beautiful evolution, from discovering Legal Design and then starting to learn about it and practice it and eventually doing it for real with clients and even at courts.

I'm curious to know about that specific project you did in the field of contract design that was awarded the Excellence and Innovation Award from the World Commerce and Contracting for the EMEA region.

But before we talk more in detail about the contract design process and mechanics, how did you even manage to convince your client to onboard with you on a Legal Design journey for the contracts? As I understand this is very new in the region, so many clients don't even know Legal design exists, and how this works. And as for anything that is new, sometimes, people may have a little bit of resistance to doing things differently. So, can you explain how did you convince your client to believe in this methodology and to work with you?

D: I think it's not a coincidence when we use Legal Design, and this was the perfect client for this. It is a Tunisian startup and as you know, startupers are always innovators. So it's not unusual at all to talk about innovation with startupers. It is very important to choose with whom to speak about legal innovation. And as a startuper, it made it easy to present Legal Design.

The second point you asked is about how I convinced my client to do Legal Design. In fact, I didn’t have to convince him. It actually came very naturally. The reason for this is that I started with the needs of my clients. He had specified clearly that he wanted documents that would be clear and understandable to both parties. When I told him that it was possible to have a contract that would be clear for both parties by using Legal Design, he accepted the challenge and we started the project. So, it's very important not to try to convince, but instead to work with clients who are eager to reach an outcome with an innovative mindset.

T: Yeah, absolutely. Choosing the right type of client for the right type of work. So that is also one of the great benefits of Legal Design! To understand who's the client, and what do they need and want and naturally respond to these needs. And Dorra, how did you work with your clients in this process? How did you involve him? Was it a strong collaboration? Was it mostly you working, and them helping or giving input? Please tell us about the process of working with the client on this project.

 D: Every project is specific to the context in which it takes place. And I realize how lucky I was with my client. The work was so fluid. First of all, the point of acceptance that we started talking about was that he had agreed to do things differently. And in fact, that's what he asked for. So, that's why I said it started from his need to have a very short document. He said he wanted to have the classic five-page contract all on one page. So I seized the opportunity to work with the Legal Design methodology to achieve this. And we did it, that was the goal!

How did we do it? We followed all the steps of the methodology. The identification of the problem with precision, being very clear and specific to the client's context until the different prototypes were made. His involvement was key throughout the process.

I also worked with a designer, with whom I am used to collaborating. And we made a first draft, a first prototype. And there, it was a bit of a surprise because I got feedback that I didn't expect at all. Even if we are in the spirit of innovation with Legal Design, we don't necessarily expect to receive the feedback we get!

I worked on the architecture, taking into account the main information of the document, which had to be put forward to meet the client's needs. And I asked the designer to find the form that matched the content. So, she was free to propose a model, taking into account that it will be in the form of blocks, to simplify the navigation in the document.

And then, we asked for the first feedback from the client. This is when he asked: "And our graphic charter?" While working on the information architecture and navigation, we forgot that this was very important to the client. Of course, it is his contract, his document, and his brand and he wants to see his brand, his colors, his logo, etc. So this is also why it's very important to go back to the client, to test with them to get feedback. So we corrected it, and we made another version.

Afterwards, he accepted the second version with his graphic charter. And then we worked more on refining the details. And these details took a lot of time. That was the second surprise, which was related to the time allocated to finish the details of the project. 

We ended up with many versions. That was the "iteration" part. As per Legal Design, we make a prototype and iterate on it, always with the client's feedback. Until we got to the last version, which you know was awarded the Excellence and Innovation award by the World CCommerce and Contracting.

T: Interesting! So how many iterations? How many prototypes before the winning concept was finally elaborated?

D: No less than five. Five versions. With back and forth between me, the designer, and the client. Looking back I think it would have been more productive to bring all the protagonists around the same table. That is the client with the designer directly with myself. Instead of me acting as the intermediary. And that would have saved us a lot of time at the work. 

T: And in terms of tools used, are there any particular tools that you used to work with your client? What tools did you use, Dorra?

D: We worked on a Word version first. With the lawyer's hat on, checking the legality of the agreement. So we first worked on the classic Word document, with a Google Drive and a shared document to see the changes. Then we switched to Miro to respect the Legal Design steps. And to get feedback, we used Maze. To test the penultimate version or rather the first version, I used Maze. All these tools I had initially discovered with Legal Creatives programs.

T: Great! Thanks for sharing! What about the insights you've had in the process?

D: The "insights" are mainly, as I just said, it's to involve at every step, at every detail, the customer. And to establish a direct dialogue with the other stakeholders: designer, if it's going to be an application the developer too. It's important to have this direct dialogue. 

T: This is a top "insight", Dorra! This is really interesting to see how you conducted the project and also the lessons learned. This direct dialogue with rounds of feedback is really unusual in the world of law where usually the lawyer is acting as the expert that delivers a final document. 

D: Exactly. In fact, that's the specificity of the "Legal Designer" whose term I don't like to use too much, but I would say the Legal Design expert. It has nothing to do with the lawyer. I was lucky enough to wear both hats in this project. At the very beginning, it was to get the important information out, legally speaking. We need legal expertise. But afterward, the follow-up and implementation of the project is the responsibility of the Legal Design expert. And I would even say project management. Project management is very important too.

T: Very interesting! So Dorra, what is one thing you discovered or learned that you didn't expect from this project? And what is one thing you may do differently? I think you've already mentioned you would get the client involved with the designer as well. Anything else you'd like to add?

D: Engaging the client throughout the process. That is the key to success. In a Legal Design Project, it's very important to involve the client and to allow him or her to participate in all the steps. This is the first point. And the second point I learned is that when you work on the substance of the project, the form will follow.

I always had a fear in relation to the format of the document. But I learned to overcome this by working on the substance of the document. That is to say, for contracts, it's the information architecture that is paramount in a contract project, to redesign a contract. And once it's been set up and validated by the client, once it meets their needs and expectations, that's when the form comes very naturally, we don't even have to think about it. So that was a very important lesson for me in this project. When you work on the content, the form will follow.

T: That's very insightful, thanks so much for sharing. And since you mentioned information architecture, your biggest lesson is definitely related to the relationship between form and content. It was a partnership agreement that you redesigned, so tell us more about the form and content and how they interplayed in this project.

D: Yes. The intention was to show the obligations and responsibilities for both parties, not only for my client but also for his partner(s). The objective was to show them their responsibilities and duties so they can navigate easily in the document for both parties. So, it's a win-win agreement. 

T: What was the feedback from the client? I kind of sense that the client was really happy all the way. What was the ultimate feedback he gave? And in the process, was the client always excited, or did you go through some ups and downs when the work was in progress since this was all very new to the client?

D: Yes, the ultimate feedback was great and yes there were ups and downs in the process, for the client and me too. In fact, the hardest part was in dealing with the first feedback. When I received the feedback and realized we left the branding elements on the side by being so intensely focused on the information architecture ... But that's what Legal Design is all about, it's also a state of mind. So, you accept feedback as a gift. So we have to ask and take this feedback into consideration. When we produced the second version, he absolutely appreciated it. As I said, the other iterations were about details: language, and wording. But the format, the architecture as such, was validated in the second test. He really liked it, that is, all on one page like he wanted. 

I also asked the client if he'd re-use Legal Design in other projects. He said yes, absolutely! Since then he has informed me that he has used the new version of the contract more than thirty times with his partners. They are not familiar with Legal Design and they like the redesigned version as much as my client does. So this contract design has a positive effect on all his business relationships, which is great for his business.

T: This means this an excellent feedback from your client, but also from your client's partners, who also get, by extension, to appreciate the quality of the work. 

D: Exactly, yes, the new contract design was accepted by both parties, providing clear, fair, and transparent foundations for his business relationships. 

T: And what's the next step, Dorra? 

D: The next step is to share more about Legal Design, because it is an important step, to make Legal Design known. Where I am, in Tunisia and North Africa it's not yet known as a new method of innovation in law. So, there is really a great effort to be made to spread the word about Legal Design. And through these projects, we are showing the impact and the importance of using this methodology that facilitates the understanding of contracts, which makes clients satisfied and happy. And also, to work again on a practical project, but this time, with a large institution. That's the goal. 

T: Excellent! We will encourage you for sure and support you in these steps. And we wish you the best, already a great project, with the World Commerce and Contracting award. A big congratulations! You have been received in London, at the Tunisian embassy too. So, really an excellent recognition of your work. 

D: Thank you. That was such a historical moment for me, in my professional career and personal growth. Also because the ambassador was a jurist. So when I talked about Legal Design, he really like the concept and the output of all the process. So, I saw a lot of interest about Legal Design from his perspective. Also, I have to say that I am blessed to count on such a beautiful community at Legal Creatives. I’ve never seen a special community as Legal Creatives. It's amazing. You can be proud of this, Tessa.

T: Oh thanks so much Dorra! We put a lot of love and a lot of effort into the community because I believe having a community that supports you is immediately influencing your success. If you have a community, well, you have support, more motivation and more chance of succeeding. Everybody helps each other so I make sure everyone feels uplifted and has the tools and resources to achieve the next level on the Legal Design Pathway. So I'm so grateful you accepted to share this beautiful story. 

I want to thank you so much for that conversation, and all the beautiful insights, golden nuggets you have shared. I think the audience is going to be really inspired.

T:  Before we go, Dorra, two things! If the readers want to connect with you, can you say where they can find you? Where can we see your contract design?

D: Let's connect! I'm always available on LinkedIn, so find me: Dorra Harrar on LinkedIn, or they can send me a message and we can connect. It would be a pleasure. 

For the contract design, it is available in the Visual Contracts Gallery by Legal Creatives - You can find it there along with other works from the graduates of Legal Creatives. 

T: Thank you so much, Dorra! This Visual Contract Gallery is so incredibly inspiring! I recommend everyone who's interested in the topic to visit it. Plus it's in the Metaverse, so it's a truly different experience. If you want to visit it, sign up for our community hub and find the Showcase in the hub! 

Dorra, it has been an absolute pleasure interviewing you today, such a great and inspiring Legal Designer. Your contract design is highly creative and unique, which makes it stand out by design! You are so passionate about her work and always look for ways to improve yourself as a professional Legal Designer. 

I invite everyone who was inspired by this interview to follow Dorra Harrar and Legal D on LinkedIn. The possibilities of creativity when it comes to designing contracts are endless - let us help you explore these opportunities! Thank you again for joining us today, Dorra!


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 Finally, we can't thank enough Anne-Geneviève Gauthier for her help in editing this interview. Your eye for detail and technical prowess were invaluable throughout the entire process. We especially appreciated your willingness to help. We know that editing this interview took some of your valuable time, but we could not have done it without your help! We are grateful for all of your hard work and dedication throughout this process!