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!

Our Legal Design Projects

Legal Design Lab logo login-03

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

Visual Law Library

Legal Design Toolbox

Legal Communication Design

What problems can we tackle with LEGAL DESIGN?

Get connected! Subscribe to our Law By Design listserv.

Do you want to come up with new ideas for legal ventures? Want to bring creativity & innovation into law? Then you need process -- find it here.

See all

Do you learn law better when it doesn't come in blocks of text? Here is our collection of visualized law -- maps, flowcharts, diagrams, tables, and more!

See all

Want to make law more accessible to more people? Here's our collection of great ideas, projects & research to design access to justice.

See all

Want to study better? Practice law better? There are ways to improve efficiency & the quality of experience.

See all

Play Law Dojo!

Apps to learn law smarter, faster, funnier! Made for law students, high school students, NPR listeners, and anyone else who wants to learn law through games.

Come play!

Latest Posts

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


The Rise of the Law School Labs

Today at the Court Technology Conference, I was lucky to co-present with Dan Jackson of NuLaw Lab of Northeastern University, and Christopher Griffin of the A2J Lab at Harvard Law School.  Our topic was: what can courts learn from law schools about user experience and innovation? Dan did an excellent job contextualizing this challenge, explaining


How can courts foster innovation in their orgs?

Two court leaders, Rob Oyung of the California courts and Casey Kennedy of the Texas courts, spoke at the Court Technology Conference this morning about what some of the myths around “why courts can’t innovate” are–and then talking through how they are figuring out ways to bring innovation into their courtrooms and organizations.


Court innovation in Missouri

At Court Technology Conference, the panel of Rob Oyung and Casey Kennedy is talking about Missouri court’s efforts to build intuitive online applications for users. Let users customize the view Provide just in time help Build the app to be extendable Use agile methodology, to take small risks and get quick feedback Improve the business


Models of Legal Innovation – from Richard Susskind

I was lucky enough to attend an IAALS working group for their Court Compass project, on reimagining the future of self-represented litigant experience in family courts. Their research team made a terrific presentation on different trends, models, and studies being done. This is one of my sketches from the session, which captures the essential parts


Beyond the Wall of Contract Text

Yesterday I got a treat in the mail: Stefania Passera’s book all about legal design and contract visualization: Beyond the Wall of Contract Text. She just finished and defended her PhD thesis at Aalto University in Finland. The book encapsulates all of this wonderful research into better ways of conveying knowledge, schemes, and rules. Congratulations


Privacy design patterns in Europe and beyond

Hat tip to Helena Haapio for sending these on: Two different websites chronicling ways to protect people’s data privacy online. There is and PrivacyPatterns.EU. Both sites lay out distinct visual and tech strategies to protect people’s privacy from bad actors, or even corporations. Both versions involve a similar group of collaborators. Their goal is


What can courts learn from airports for customer service?

I have been scouting out service design inspirations, particularly from airports, that courts could use. This one is from JFK airport, in the Delta terminal. I was very impressed with their service design. They had taken over an entire gate with a help center that had all kinds of touchpoints: paper, phone terminals, people, kiosks.


Stakeholder mapping the traffic ticket system

For a systems + design thinking workshop that I’m coaching at Stanford this week, I’ve been creating some visuals to help catch participants up with the system of traffic tickets and safety on the streets. I’ve found a stakeholder map to be a very effective and simple way to sum up who’s who in


How do we design better disclosures, that people will read and use?

Earlier this week, I got the chance to talk at the Department of Labor about one of the Legal Design Lab’s recent projects on improving legal communication. I wrote about it over at the Lab’s site — you can see my slides there. Here are my notes from the hearing, where other industry experts and


What would a Better Way of Contracting for Microtransactions be?

Professor Camilla Andersen of the University of Western Australia has a sharp presentation on how contract law is broken (or limping along) — particularly in the age of microtransactions online, with a culture of TOS and consumer contracts which no one reads. She proposes ways to think outside the box, pointing to better ways for


Signatu creates a new privacy compliance tool

As the EU’s large new data privacy regulation rolls out next year, there is some work to ease the burdens of complying with it. For example, the Norwegian group Signatu aims to offer an automated, well-designed way to comply with the privacy regulation. Signatu offers a privacy policy generator web app, that lets the user choose


Why is #AI not being implemented in courts?

In court management circles, it is established that Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are crucial to the evolution of court services.  So why isn’t the #AIrevolution taking courts by storm? A few of the dynamics at play: a culture of “no” that resists change, an inertia towards anything tech courts that don’t have control of


How will courts be disrupted?

Courts aren’t used to thinking about competition. Most have been used to be the only provider of dispute resolution. They haven’t had to think about the public as customers with choice. David Slayton, the court administrator of Texas scourts, presented on court disruption at the National Association for Court Management. If courts can “self-disrupt”, they


Why are courts struggling to engage (minority) communities?

At the National Association for court Management, I attended the session on how courts are focused on better engaging minority and disadvantaged communities. There are many dynamics that feed into the poor relationship: Predatory Practices by municipal courts -with bail, fines, fees practices that take money from people in punishing ways Implicit Bias of police


How can AI improve courts?

A quick sketch of some of the takeaways from a presentation I gave, along with Karl Branting of MITRE corporation at the National Association for court Management. We spoke on AI and Big Data in the courts, and what the near future could look like with new tech integrated into court processes and services.