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.

Legal Mapping project - Open Law Lab

The output would be usable, procedural, visuals, to give people a birds eye view of the legal world they are living in, and the specific steps they can take to move along the path.

I hear requests for legal infographics from people outside the legal sector who want to be more literate in law. But I don’t think traditional infographics, with a smattering of facts, data points, and graphs are what will be most useful. Visuals that talk through the basics of a legal topic have some use, but process-based maps — whether they are the 1-2-3-4-5 of steps to get through a procedure, or the branching decision tree to tell you if you are eligible for a legal procedure or not — have much greater value.


All well and good if the legal system you are dealing with is built on a solid foundation; if the prescribed RULES of PROCEDURE are clearly and sensibly defined; if those in charge of that system strictly adhere to the aforesaid; if, indeed, due process is based on proof by fact; where issues dealt with at all time relate; where procedure is clearly defined and relevant to the issues at hand. Where progress towards a finite interpretation is at all times visible.
If NOT, all functions in a maze, and any directives only help to further confuse.

The idea of process mapping the law is one we have been working on with a project called A2J Author. There are over 1000 A2J Guided Interviews available across the country that walk low income, self-represented people through specific areas of law and tasks.

For example, in Illinois, a pro se litigant can go through an A2J Guided Interview to fill out a name change form. Here is the link to check it out:

An A2J Guided Interview is an interactive interview that has a guide avatar and an avatar for the end user. It asks questions, collects information from the end user, walks down a pathway leading to a courthouse. The ultimate result is that the end user can print out their completed court form and go file it.

The 1000+ A2J Guided Interviews have been used 2.5 million times in 10 years and at least 1 A2J Guided Interview is available in 40 states.

That’s great — I’m thinking more of Maps proper, that can be printed off or accessed as an image online — and people can see the steps laid out clearly. Perhaps taking a Process-Mapping session and then laying it out into a usable visual — not with the end product of a completed document, but rather at an intake/orientation stage, to help the person figure out what path to choose in the first place and measure what to expect on this path.

Check out It maps the logic of the law. The information is crowdsourced. I think it’s almost exactly what you’re looking for. It’s in beta right now.