Liberty Mutual Insurance is sponsoring “The Design Challenge” at Suffolk University Law School Law on November 17. A group of 25 Suffolk Law students will compete to come up with the most practical, useful, and innovative approach to a real-world problem faced by the US court system, AmLaw 200 companies, and corporate legal departments. The winning team will take home a cash prize.

In simple terms, design thinking, also called human-centered design, focuses in on clients’ needs, and on working collaboratively to develop solutions that can be tested relatively rapidly. Some of the best ideas in design thinking come from notes scribbled onto sketch pads, sticky notes, and white boards, and then re-arranged with scissors and iPads.

Design Thinking events are often referred to as hackathons, as participants spend a good chunk of hours, without stopping, on a real-world challenge that didn’t have a solution before the marathon started.

The judges for the event are Liberty Mutual’s Michael Stevens, VP & Chief Counsel , Jeff Marple, Innovation Director for Corporate Legal, and Suffolk Law Professors Dyane O’Leary, and Jeffrey Lipshaw. Liberty Mutual’s Robert Taylor, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, will be hosting the event and walking the floor working with teams as they design their presentations.

Prof. Gabriel Teninbaum says hackathons like the one in November are often transformational. “The ideas that teams come up with are usually thoughtful and actionable, and I also see that the competitors have a new kind of confidence that big problems can be addressed—that you don’t need a slew of special credentials or a big bankroll to solve a problem. You do need creativity. It’s powerful to watch.”

“Design thinking gives people a new set of tools by which to foster creative processes,” he says. “This is something that’s key to building legal professionals to succeed in the future. And, by partnering with Liberty Mutual, we’re able to collaborate with one of the most innovative companies in the world, which has made design thinking a core function of its legal work.”

Liberty’s sponsorship of the Suffolk Design Challenge is part of a larger transformation at the insurer to create a fast, flexible and agile organization that leads change in the industry by incubating new ideas and deploying new technologies, said Liberty’s Taylor. “We are using out-of-the-box approaches such as design challenges like this one to test new ideas and more quickly take them from ideation to creation,” he said. “The legal industry is not immune to the impact of technology and in a world where we can’t predict the future and new competitors can come from many directions, we need to embrace changes and reconfigure our priorities in real time.”

Suffolk Law was recently honored among the 20 Most Innovative Law Schools by National Jurist. The school launched the nation’s first legal technology and innovation concentration and has its own R&D arm, the LIT Institute. Suffolk’s Accelerator Program won the ABA’s top honor for innovations for improving access to legal services for moderate income people. The law school’s dean, Andrew Perlman, is a Fastcase 50 legal innovation visionary and currently serves as chair of the ABA’s new Center for Innovation.

In business since 1912, and headquartered in Boston, Mass., Liberty Mutual is a leading global insurer with operations in 30 countries and economies around the world. The company is the fourth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2016 direct written premium data as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty ranks 75th on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2016 revenue and employs more than 55,000 people around the world. As of December 31, 2016, the company had $38.3 billion in annual consolidated revenue.