Design thinking, law, and the future of social enterprises.

Developing products and services for an international law firm who sees the growth in impact investment and social enterprises as an opportunity.


Paul Hastings LLP is a global law firm that represents a client base in finance, M&A, private equity, and litigation.


Using BMI’s 4-phased approach, we designed 3 final business models to take Paul Hastings into the future.

The challenge: Accelerate impact using BMI’s co-creative methods.

Social enterprises are growing in number, size, and importance and impact investors are taking note. Paul Hastings had the goal of developing new value propositions unique to this emerging sector, that will see Paul Hastings continue to grow alongside their new clients from this emerging industry. Like many law firms, Paul Hastings had little free time to dive deep and explore these new ideas, which is where BMI came in. Equipped with experience in accelerating new products and services, as well as co-creative methods of development, BMI was the perfect fit to partner for this endeavor. With this opportunity in hand, we set out to make Paul Hastings the go-to legal group to support these social enterprises and impact investors on their journeys to create more sustainable impact.

The solution: BMI acts as an accelerator lab for Paul Hastings.

An accelerator lab model was chosen as the best strategy to approach this new business opportunity. To kick off this project BMI conducted qualitative customer research with over 50 social enterprises in person or over the phone. From all of these interviews we were able to contextualize this complex, growing market and the potential therein. With that research-driven context clearly spelled out, we were ready to ideate new solutions together.

The solutions were brainstormed during a 2- day workshop with both social enterprise entrepreneurs as well as lawyers from Paul Hastings. Acting in mixed groups, they worked together and used their collected brainpower to come up with many different solutions, some of which would be considered for immediate implementation and many others to be saved for future scenarios.

After landing on multiple possible solutions, BMI went out to validate these in the market. Through prototyping solutions (through custom-designed websites and events) we were able to pivot after speaking with another round of social entrepreneurs. Finally, 3 scalable business models were landed on as the core strategy to implement these solutions at Paul Hastings.

Design thinking, law, and the future of social enterprises

The results: Using BMI’s 4-phased approach, we designed 3 final business models to take Paul Hastings into the future.

We found that the best way to approach this new market opportunity is through a 4 phased strategy, starting with leveraging Paul Hasting’s existing core capabilities and moving into a position of gathering data, building partnerships, and exploring new pricing and delivery models.

Early prototyping resulted in reaching 1,536 people, including having 135 people attend preliminary events. In addition to this validation, this project received accolades on the approach taken to try and find a way to better serve the social impact community. One of these accolades included Meg Sullivan, Chief Business Development, Marketing & CSR Officer, and lead rebel of the Paul Hastings team to be recently recognized as the winner of the Financial Times inaugural ‘Legal Intrapreneur Award’. Meg was noted for turning sustainability and diversity into growth opportunities, helping lawyers take fresh views of clients’ needs, reinventing trainings to offer new career routes for associates, and developing our new Impact and Sustainability practice group. Read more here.

Want to discover new business models that will take you into the future?