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From Visualization to Legal Design: A Collaborative and Creative Process
American Business Law Journal  (IF1.533),  Pub Date : 2017-04-21, DOI: 10.1111/ablj.12101
Gerlinde Berger-Walliser, Thomas D. Barton, Helena Haapio

Although the law remains predominately focused on the written word, a growing body of scholarship and legal practice reflect a dramatic increase in the use of visualization in virtually every legal context. Three starting assumptions underpin our ideas of implementing visualization ideas and techniques into what we call “Legal Design” that may aid contract simplification:First, we examine the use of images in business documents and in statutes, rather than for advocacy. Moving away from adversarial settings offers several advantages. It permits us to illustrate the use of images in a broader range of practical legal applications. It also enables us to adopt the thinking, values, and methods of a non-traditional approach to lawyering and the law: “Preventive Law” or “Proactive Law” (combined here as “PPL”). Second, we offer guidelines for using images in conjunction with words rather than in isolation, since the law only rarely abandons its verbal expression. Realistically, visualization is almost always used in hybrid ways — combinations of words and images to enhance the effectiveness of communication. That seems unlikely to change, given the need for detail and refinement when the law is imposing duties on people. Finally, our method analyzes variables surrounding choices and consequences about the process of generating, transmitting, and using images to accompany legal language. Examining this dynamic can deepen our understanding of the information conveyed; it can also reveal the potential of visualization for creating spillover value for businesses or regulatory agencies that employ the images to advance legal and organizational effectiveness.