Visual Law

Law can be made more comprehensible if it is made more visual.

This means illustrating cases — putting the human situations back into the legal opinions — creating flowcharts out of rules — and thinking about how we can convert complicated text into clear, digestible, graphic presentations.

Is A Burrito A Sandwich - razblint

I have also been putting together flow charts for clearer conceptions of legal rules — that are not put forward only as text or outlines, but as visual journeys of decisions. I find them useful for studying & responding to test questions.

Law - can federal agency get my info

Here are some examples of law school flowcharts and illustrations I have been working on:

ODR - Small Claims Mediation Task Flow - three stages Tax Flow Employee Discounts 2013-02-16 (12.38.14-285 AM) Tax Flow Illustrated - Employee gets free services - razblint Razblint - Law School Sketchbook - Torts - FLow Chart - Alcohol and Duty - color

Examples of Visual Law
28/07

Swimlane visual of Trademark policy

Here is a legal visual that I had started to create a few years ago during a Legal Design Jam for Wikimedia’s trademark policy. Here I’ve made it more generic — the point isn’t to capture specific policy points in this visual, but rather to draft what a one-page, usable guide of a policy might

26/06

Data Visualization of Securities Litigation

Inside Stanford Law School, the Stanford Securities Litigation Analytics project is gathering all kinds of data about securities litigation & then making it visual, interactive, and usable to lawyers and companies. It takes a data-driven approach to how we assess the prospects of a case & what kinds of choices and changes a lawyer or

28/04

Legal Visuals in the Courtroom

Yesterday I had the privilege to visit the courtroom of the Honorable Shawna Schwarz in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. I was there to discuss with a small group about a possible pilot of a Court Messaging Project in some family court hearings. While I was in Judge Schwarz’s chambers, I noticed some

06/04

Code Explorer visual tool

Professor Harry Surden of Univ. of Colorado Law School has published a beta version of a visual Code Explorer tool, to unpack & explore the laws on the books. Instead of paging through or scrolling through legal text — you can open up the tree of sections & sub-sections and see the text on the

06/04

Legal Mapping

As I’ve been reflecting on different patterns and models of Access projects, I’ve realized that we should be investing in a massive Legal Pathways Mapping project. We should be creating consistent (and hopefully also smart, interactive, encoded) maps of all the legal procedures that are amenable to be mapped. The output would be usable, procedural,

16/03

Why don’t smart people care about online privacy?

When I was in law school, one of the projects that got me into design & tech-based work was the challenge of “How to make online tracking and privacy threats more transparent to Internet users?” This big question was part of a Harvard-Stanford law school class, on ‘Big Challenges of the Internet’ — in which

12/02

Can we standardize Legal Warning icons?

Inspired by the Mozilla/Aza Raskin’s Privacy Icons project, I’ve been thinking about how we can improve how we communicate legal warnings online. Particularly, I’m thinking of those standard disclaimers & limitations of warranties that legal professionals attach to their websites & their emails. If these consumer-facing warnings are used everywhere, it’s worth thinking of how

04/02

Graphic Justice: on visual stories & the law

Graphic Justice is a UK-based blog and network of academics who are interested in storytelling, visuals and the law. The posts on the group’s site focus mainly on how comic books & graphic narratives explore themes of law & justice.  It is less about using visual storytelling to communicate exact legal procedures, rights, or advice.

03/02

Legal Design Essential: how to lay out text in better ways

A quick visual guide I made for very low-barrier, easy ways to make your text communications more usable to average readers. This applies to both hard-copy print-outs, and digital text. Related posts: Visual Design Essential Principles Plain Language & Legal Design Text-enabled Legal Services Legal Design Jam, Part 2 The Good Notice Project: complex legal

28/01

Lawtoons comics for Indian constitutional law

In December, I had the pleasure of meeting Kanan Dhru when she visited the d.school on her trip to the US.  I had written about her project Lawtoons when it was in the funding stage earlier this year — she was crowdfunding her plan to make visual stories to explain Indian law to young people.

23/01

LegalDesign.It group for people working on visual law

I’ve been talking with some of my colleagues about how to set up some more deliberate & collaborative groups who are working on human-centered design & law.  Part of the problem with the ‘Access to Justice’ movement is how dispersed our work & research is. There have been some groups that have cropped up recently,

23/01

Law in Comics & Graphic Novels

Here’s an entire special edition of the journal Law Text Culture devoted to Justice Framed: Law in Comics & Graphic Novels.  I’ve linked to an introduction to the volume by Luis Gomez and Ian Dahlman.  It explores how law is integrated into visual narratives. Thanks to Kristina Brousalis for pointing me toward it. Here are

21/01

Isobel William’s UK Supreme Court drawings

Isobel Williams is an artist in the UK who on her site Drawing from an uncomfortable position keeps a collection of gorgeous drawings from the UK Supreme Court. She has the court’s permission to be a drawing-blogger in the Court. Where cameras can’t go, she goes — drawing documentations of cases and culture in the

16/09

Law on Display: visuals & legal persuasion

Law professors Neal Feigenson and Christina Spiesel published the book Law on Display in 2011. They make the argument that visuals are becoming increasingly powerful in legal courtrooms: to frame issues, to persuade jurors, to convey scientific evidence with greater force, and to change how advocates represent clients. Aside from the book, they also maintain

28/08

Law Comics: Bound By Law: the “Understanding Comics” of copyright

Here’s another example of visual explanations of law.  Here it is the 2008 book Bound by Law?: Tales from the Public Domain, with Intellectual Property Law visualized in comic book format, from Duke University Press, authored by Keith Aioki, James Boyle, and Jennifer Jenkins.  You can buy it here on Amazon. via Bound By Law: the

18/08

Legal Futures infographic for the Canadian Bar Association

Here is a visual I made for the Canadian Bar Association, to illustrate the main takeaways of their new Legal Futures report. And then a version in French as well. It was great to have a small part in the report — it’s full of great insights about the near-future for the legal market &

04/08

Law Comics: Alice in Patentland

Law Comics is a Tumblr blog that features a handful of illustrated explainers of law — to start with, patents. These first comics are authored by Julia Powles & illustrated by Ilias Kyriazis. Their description of the general project: Law Comics is a project steered by non-boring lawyers to render iconic legal cases in full-colour

16/07

Parking Sign Design

I was excited to see a concept design for a Parking Sign featured in Wired Magazine– that would communicate a legal warning/penalty quite clearly to the people who are living under the regulation. It links back into the d.school class Get Smart, on good legal communication design, that I taught this past Spring at Stanford.

14/07

Lawtoons & Visualizing Rights in India

Kanan Dhru of the Research Foundation for Governance: in India (RFGI) think tank reached out to me, sharing her Lawtoons project — as well as a more general initiative to bring legal innovation into Indian legal education & court rooms. Lawtoons is currently being crowdfunded, to create visualizations of law for young people.  It is

22/05

Graphic Legal Intake form

Here’s a visual for non-lawyers to enter information for a professional to later use in their legal case, and also to understand if they are eligible for DACA. It is a product of the North Carolina Immigrant Rights Project. Related posts: Legal Visual Mnemonics: Breaches of Contracts ChartaCourse for procedural & visual legal education The

16/05

Complex Visual Design tools

Here is a handout I made for my communication design students, about different visual structures they can use to communicate complex information. I made it particularly for lawyers, as part of my legal design toolbox. Related posts: Visual Design Essential Principles The Good Notice Project: complex legal information design Legal Communciation Design diagrams Intro to

28/04

The Good Notice Project: complex legal information design

For the Get Smart class I’m teaching at Stanford d.school, about information design for legal & financial notices, I’ve put together The Good Notice Project. I’m collecting examples of how notice is given — whether through signs, text, or more visceral experiences. The site’s collection of examples will be useful to the students in the

03/03

Visual Law Library

Through the Program for Legal Tech & Design, I’ve launched a new project — The Visual Law Library. We started populating the site with drawings, charts, cartoons, graphs, timelines, videos, and other media that can make specific parts of the law easier to understand. Our goal is to build a usable & beautiful collection of

23/01

Law Visual: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

A quick illustration of a tort! Related posts: How Laws Are Made, a visual Visual Law Library Legal Visual: Defenses Lexpert & Visual Law Ravel Law, visual legal research Legal Visual Mnemonics: Breaches of Contracts Complex Visual Design tools LegalDesign.It group for people working on visual law Graphic Justice: on visual stories & the law

17/12

Legal Claim Maps

At the request of my sister, I have been tinkering with simple diagram templates for law students, lawyers & clerks to structure their legal analysis, and anchor a writing they have to make, evaluating parties claims in light of the law. My first go is a Legal Claim Map — just a simple table template. 

11/12

On Beauty & Law

Related posts: Isobel William’s UK Supreme Court drawings Interactive Legal Maps Lexpert & Visual Law The Fate of Legal Clinics InfoCamp Redesign Law On Better Legal Presentations Ravel Law, visual legal research Redesigning a 1040 Legal Claim Maps Law Visual: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Graphic Legal Intake form Immigration Law Comics

08/12

Legal Visual Mnemonics: Breaches of Contracts

This is a new concept I’m playing around with, in the area of Legal Visualizations: Legal Visual Mnemonics. I see all these memorization tools for legal rules with concepts converted into letters, then packaged into words, and finally packaged up into memorable phrases. What if an image could be part of this packaging of the

21/11

Immigration Storyline Infographics

For part of the Fwd.us DREAMer Hackathon the past 2 days in Mountain View, I started prototyping some uber-simple infograhpics of (often crazy) immigration narratives. I wanted to show the amount of time waiting, the amount of time in limbo, and the failpoints. Even if you come in legally, happily, optimistically, you can end up

26/10

Legal Design Jam: a sketchnote

This originally went up at the Stanford d.school’s Whiteboard site, now reposted here: If you are interested in hosting your own Legal Design Jam — getting people together to work on how to redesign the look and interactions of a legal document — reach out to Stefania at stefania.passera (at) aalto.fi Related posts: Sketchnote on

09/10

Bar Study Visuals

Brendan Conley alerted me to a small library of visuals he has built up since he studied for the Bar a few years ago. He has made flowcharts & diagrams to help other students get to the heart of the Bar exam topics more quickly & visually. For example, here is one diagram he made

04/10

Legal Design Jam, Part 2

We’ve had OVERWHELMING response to our Legal Design Jam outreach for next Friday at Stanford’s d.school. So we are adding on a Day 2, on October 12th, from 12-6pm — this time up in San Francisco at The Embassy Network. RSVP here, it’s open to all kinds of people interested in building better, more visual

24/09

Tech Tips for Legals

Here’s a short, unnarrated overview of legal tech tools from Legal Services NTAP that lawyers & others could use to organize their projects, do better research, work on the road, take notes, use visuals, create media, analyze data, and use all the tech they already have in better ways. 50 Tech Tips 2013 EJC from

22/09

Drawn Flowchart: State Law in Conflict

Another legal flowchart/mindmap — this time for situations when states have made laws that are in conflict with other laws. I sketched it out while studying for the Bar. Have fun! Related posts: Evidence Law Flowchart: Admissible? Evidence Flowchart: Hearsay? Roompact: Contracting & Conflict Resolution software for roommates A Drawn Note on Situational Design Hand

20/09

Legal Design Jam at Stanford

Will you be in the Bay Area on Friday October 11th? Do you want to come redesign a legal document — make it lively, graphic, & visual? Apply to join our Legal Design Jam at Stanford’s design school! The formal invitation is here, a PDF you are welcome to redistribute. And apply here with this

11/09

Legal Visual: Defenses

I drew this while studying for the Bar, to help remember possible defenses. Hope it can help you too! Related posts: Legal Visual Mnemonics: Breaches of Contracts On legal flow charts… Lexpert & Visual Law Ravel Law, visual legal research Reinvent Law visual: Legal by Design ChartaCourse for procedural & visual legal education The Challenge

20/08

More Good Tax Form Design

It seems lots of User Experience & Information designers have tried to tackle tax forms.  These are all hypothetical versions (it seems the IRS is massively against any new updates).  They are inspiring in how they simplify complexities and simply look more beautiful. Considering all of these examples, I would love to see a ‘Skins’

20/08

Redesigning a 1040

In 2004, Karen Schriver, a designer and professor, took on a Milwaukee journalist’s challenge to make the 1040 IRS tax form more user-friendly.  She tackled the redesign with information design principles, using composition and visual tools, to guide the user through.  Unfortunately, the link to her redesign is broken — but her writing about the

18/07

The Challenge of Good Legal Information Design

I’ve been tunnel-vision studying for the California Bar, and in the process, I’ve been trying to hunt down graphics & visuals that will give me a break from text-madness of Bar Prep. I have chanced across one-pagers like this on California Community Property. This is a one-page headache.  Or heart attack? This is what is

26/06

What does good notice look like?

I am collecting examples of how Notice is given to people in public, to comply with legal requirements to provide them warnings, information, and notification that something is happening to them. Related posts: The Good Notice Project: complex legal information design Exploring Models of Triage Tools Privacy By Design Checklist Good Design of Privacy Notices

24/06

Illustrated Evidence: Hearsay & 6th Amendment

Related posts: Evidence Flowchart: Hearsay? Law Flowcharts (Hearsay Exceptions) Evidence Law Flowchart: Admissible? Illustrated Guide for Immigrant Youth Hearsay Exceptions, the video Illustrated Lawyering Does US surveillance of Muslims violate the 1st Amendment? Lightweight law games & Objection! Your Honor evidence game Ravel Law, visual legal research Legal Claim Maps Graphic Legal Intake form Isobel

16/06

Evidence Law Flowchart: Admissible?

As requested by a visitor, another evidence flowchart — this time a more general Checklist as a Flowchart. Related posts: Evidence Flowchart: Hearsay? Illustrated Evidence: Hearsay & 6th Amendment Drawn Flowchart: State Law in Conflict Law Flowcharts (Hearsay Exceptions) Lightweight law games & Objection! Your Honor evidence game Legal Health Checklist Legal Flowchart: Understand Immigration!

31/05

Typography for Lawyers

I’ve been enjoying the site Typography for Lawyers from Matthew Butterick. He makes some effective arguments as to why Typography is more than just font choice — why it is a design choice that will affect how a lawyer’s audience will react to the text itself. Why does typography matter? Typog­ra­phy mat­ters because it helps

20/05

Good Design of Privacy Notices

I dug up a report that the FTC had published a few years back on how they have evolved good information design for financial institutions to give privacy & legal notices to their lay customers. The document is a rich set of patterns, examples, and procedural insights into how to design legal (and law-relevant, rights-relevant)

14/05

Legal Jacket concept

A quick sketch of a concept for wearable law… Of course fictional now, but only slightly tongue-in-cheek… Related posts: Law School Improv concept design Legal Design Concept: How’s My Litigating? Where is the concept of Care in Legal Services? Legal Concept Design: A Bar-Taking Robot What if we redesigned legal systems for the end user?

29/03

Lexpert & Visual Law

I got a note from Helena Haapio in Finland today — there is a group of legal professionals & others active with the organization Lexpert who are working to innovate on preventative and visual law. They are design-oriented & creative, trying to make law communicated more accessibly. Annika Varjonen provides the text below, and lively

27/03

Evidence Flowchart: Hearsay?

Another flowchart that I made for my Evidence final last week, and just colored in… Related posts: Evidence Law Flowchart: Admissible? Illustrated Evidence: Hearsay & 6th Amendment Drawn Flowchart: State Law in Conflict Law Flowcharts (Hearsay Exceptions) Lightweight law games & Objection! Your Honor evidence game Legal Flowchart: Understand Immigration! Hearsay Exceptions, the video Should

20/03

Law Flowcharts (Hearsay Exceptions)

Prints of this drawing available here for purchase! I am playing with different ways to study for my Finals. I decided to try out flowcharts. My hypothesis: the act of putting together a flowchart is itself one of the best ways to learn an area of law. Especially with a rule-based doctrinal class like Evidence,

12/03

Ravel Law, visual legal research

Ravel Law (above, presenting at Reinvent Law in Silicon Valley last Friday) is a start-up that grew out of Stanford Law, that is building visual tools for legal research. Cases’ importance to an issue would make them larger or smaller, cites would be visual links, relationships would be color coded. Another great visual possibility would

07/03

Immigration Law Comics

The Immigration Legal Resource Center in San Francisco provides comic book explanations of common immigration scams and how to avoid them. Related posts: Law Comics: Bound By Law: the “Understanding Comics” of copyright Legal Flowchart: Understand Immigration! Immigo: app of resources for immigration advocates Lawtoons comics for Indian constitutional law Consumer Immigration Law Brainstorm Making

10/01

some Intellectual Property Basics, Terry Fisher at ILaw

some Intellectual Property Basics, Terry Fisher at ILaw Related posts: Sketchnotes on the internet & law Legal Flowchart: Understand Immigration! The Challenge of Good Legal Information Design Law Comics: Bound By Law: the “Understanding Comics” of copyright Law Comics: Alice in Patentland Legal Mapping Code Explorer visual tool Why Trust Silicon Valley? Bar Review Apps

01/12

You Choose your ads on Unthink social network

A new social network has come out of Florida, with mom Natasha Dedis at its helm, to let users choose what ads are shown on their network, and to keep their information from being sold by the network to advertisers. From Andrew Couts at Digital Media: Unthink attempts to tackle the exploitation problem in a

08/11

How to build privacy into a social network

Arvind Narayanan used the example of LiveJournal to scout out some features which could be built into social networks to allow greater control over sharing and privacy. First: Everyone But X. “This is an example of a whole class of access control primitives that make no sense from the traditional computer science security perspective. If

08/11

Privacy Policy By Interface Design

How could a privacy policy not be a privacy policy (a legalistic document stored away at a siloed URL on a website) — but be woven into the user experience of a the site? Are there ways that interface design can do the work of the privacy policy — giving users a sense of what

20/10

Legal Flowchart: Understand Immigration!

  A very instructive & fun cartoon flow chart on illegal immigration.  More legal information design, for clarity & playfulness!  From Terry Colon, published in Reason Magazine. Related posts: Evidence Flowchart: Hearsay? Making Immigration User-Friendly workshop report Fwd.Us Immigration Hackathon: Immigration Visualization Project Immigo: app of resources for immigration advocates Consumer Immigration Law Brainstorm Legal

20/10

Visualizing California Government

California Common Sense is a new Palo Alto-based non-profit that is trying to gather together all of the data about the state’s government, and then process it into visualizations that are clear, interactive & revealing.  The basic mission: make the government more transparent, starting with California Related posts: Lawtoons & Visualizing Rights in India California

Know of any other good visuals?
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