Open Law Lab is a Margaret Hagan's blog on Legal Design:
a movement to make the law
more accessible, more usable, and more engaging.
Areas of Legal Design

Legal Design Process

Visual Law

Access to Justice

Legal Ed & Practice

An ABA Journal Blawg 100 site


Open Law Lab was chosen as one of the top 100 legal sites by the ABA Journal in 2014-16. The list spotlights sites that speak to a legal audience. Come over to their site to see the other 99 sites — and to vote for Open Law Lab to be one of the favorites!

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An R&D lab for legal services at Stanford Law School and

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Latest Posts

Legal icons on Noun Project

I am putting more of my visuals up on Noun Project, so anyone can use this visual language for legal issues and things. You can download them for free here on the Noun Project website to use in your projects! The first batch is fairly sketchy — more proper and clean ones coming soon!


Sketching the rise of government policy labs

At a recent class on Community-Led System Design, we were lucky to be joined by Verena Kontschieder, a visiting researcher at Stanford’s Center for Design Research. She is doing a PhD on the growing number of policy labs that live in governments and intergovernmental institutions. I sketched out some of the wonderful points and insights


Testing engagement with different Access to Justice interventions

This year, my work at the Legal Design Lab is shifting from the strictly generative and experimental, to more evaluation and development. That means we’re not working so much on open design sprints, to spot new promising ideas, but rather more testing and refinement work – – to figure out which types of interventions are


Sketching the LSC Innovations in Tech conference

Last week I was in New Orleans at one of the largest legal aid and self-help Innovacion conferences, sponsored by the Legal Services Corporation. I presented on a few panels, around community led system design, and around a better Internet for legal help online. But the real phone was in the networking, and hearing leaders


What are ways to structure online legal help resources?

A page from my notebook during a recent conference, all about structuring legal help online in better ways. Engagement is such a huge challenge — and we can think through different models to get people When we think about how to build trust and follow-through with a person visiting our site, do we present resources


A Community Design Approach to legal services innovation

What does it mean to take a ‘design approach’ to innovation, especially around legal and social services? I made this sketch to make it clear. The key principle to follow is: involve the community you are trying to serve, and not just their advocates or others who speak for them, in the creation and vetting


One year of legal community design in the Escambia Project

Last week I went to Orlando to participate in a share-out to the Florida Bar Foundation, by the core design team that worked over the past year to conduct a community-driven design process to create new legal services in Pensacola, Florida — and Escambia County. You can read up on the initial design work we


Human Centered Design toolkit book from OPM

The federal agency the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has an innovation unit, the Lab. Through the Legal Design Lab, I have been lucky to work with them on projects, in which they’ve coached students and done design work pro bono. Now they have a gorgeous toolkit book, for use by other people in the


User Testing for courts

How can courts, especially those that serve self-represented litigants, test their new ideas for improvements directly with their users? I sketched out these thoughts at the Court Technology Conference this past September, with particular reference to Shannon Salter’s presentation about the work she did in the courts of British Columbia, doing extensive user testing and


Key legal visual design patterns

As a part of integrating various design workshops and product development into one resource, I have been assembling the Legal Communication Design resource as a part of the Legal Design Lab’s network of sites. I’ve been sketching out core, cross-legal design patterns that regularly test well as ‘good legal design’. Here are 3 of the


Sketching out how visual design can be used by law

I had the pleasure of meeting Aafke Frederik of Studio Pen on a recent trip to the Netherlands, where I was talking about how visual design can be used to improve how lawyers work and connect with audiences. Aafke made some sketchnotes of my talk — very meta! And I include them here: some sketched


Escambia Project: community-driven legal design in Pensacola

I’ve been honored to be the design facilitator on the Escambia Project, a community-driven design initiative in Pensacola, Florida, to reimagine, prototype, and pilot new ways to get people access to legal services. It’s funded by Florida Bar Foundation, spearheaded by Melissa Moss (who leads special initiatives of the Foundation), and driven by Pathways for


A legal document through a service design lens #LDS2017

More details from the Dottir-Varma-Hellon case study of human centered redesign of legal documents and contracts. A document is not just a product, it is a system and a service.


Case study of legal design: redesign of pension decision documents #LDS2017

At the Legal Design Summit in Helsinki, a profile of how Dottir, Varma , and Hellon — a law firm, client, and service design agency, came together to redesign how pension decision documents are created. Instead of sending cold recitations of the law and decision, the group used human centered design to understand the emotional


Judica service design for witnesses in the criminal justice system

In the UK, there was a (seemingly now defunct) service design effort to support people who were called on to be witnesses in a criminal justice case. Called, Judica, it was run in partnership with the UK Ministry of Justice, with a design team through the Royal Academy of Art in the UK, with team members


For online legal help, people need Escape Hatches

In some recent testing of possible online court scenarios (with “Wizard of Oz” prototyping — not really coding these online court scenarios), our research team has observed an interesting trend. Many users will click on a button to ‘Skype with a Judge’ or to ‘Start Online Court’. They are intrigued and a little excited to


What might an on-the-street participatory justice lab be?

After reading and thinking about various participatory design and open innovation strategies, I’ve been brainstorming around how to get more community input into the redesign of the legal system. Could we have a roving laboratory, a pop-up place that would consult with people about what services they want, how they want to get them, and


Hacking 4 A2J cards

Jose Fernando Torres, of Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Colombia, spoke at the Legal Design Lab‘s Law + Design Summit last week, and introduced the Hacking 4 A2J design cards. He made them with the design firm Haptica. These cards are guidance and provocations for a team looking to improve the justice system, using an agile


Jumping Off the Ivory Tower podcast

My  listening this week: a podcast, Jumping Off the Ivory Tower, from Prof. Julie MacFarlane, of Canada’s National Self Represented Litigant Project. Here’s how Julie presents her vision for the podcast: Jumping Off the Ivory Tower with ProfJulieMac is a weekly podcast of about 30 minutes – perfect commuting time, or time to walk the dog


Cheat sheet for Digital Abuse Restraining Orders

Lawyer Erica Johnstone sent me a copy of a beautiful, laminated Cheat Sheet for people exploring how they might get a restraining order for online abuse. She produced it with her nonprofit Without My Consent, that focuses on fighting online harassment. This cheat sheet is in part based on Santa Clara Judge Shana Schwarz’s cheat sheets