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.
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Legal Design Process


Visual Law


Access to Justice


Legal Ed & Practice

An ABA Journal Blawg 100 site

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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 d.school.

Visual Law Library

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What problems can we tackle with LEGAL DESIGN?

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Latest Posts
05/12

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

05/12

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

20/11

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

14/11

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

13/11

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

08/11

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

07/11

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

01/11

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.

01/11

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

19/10

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

16/10

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

26/09

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

25/09

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

18/09

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

18/09

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

13/09

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

12/09

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.

12/09

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

08/09

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

06/09

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