Legal design helps understanding legal contents

As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The brain processes visual elements quicker than text.

Why aren’t pictures and other visual tools used more in presenting legal contents? Legal Design can be used to make legal communication more understandable and user-friendly.

The need for legal design has increased with technology as legal contents have become more available and present in everyday life. Each of us run into legal communication daily in the form of e.g. contracts, terms of use or traffic signs. But how many of us actually read the entire terms of use of a mobile application, the privacy policy on a website or a 30-page-long contract? On the other hand, technology has increased the possibilities to carry out legal design in the most imaginative ways. Yet most contents are in the form of text. I don’t expect court decisions or employment contracts to be available in the form of images or videoclips in the near future.

“How many of us actually read the entire terms of use of a mobile application or the privacy policy on a website?”

Even though nothing is as mind-numbing as listening to a monotonous presentation as the slides filled with text with a small font size (on a white background, of course) change in the background, legal design should not be done just for the sake of design. I have also often seen presentations that are filled with dozens of colors, images, fonts and font sizes. As the cherry on top, ClipArt -images familiar from the 90’s (that bring back flashbacks of creating 90’s birthday cards with PowerPoint) are glued on top. Is it really necessary to fill empty slides with all the aforementioned without considering what message you want to convey?

“Legal design should not be done just for the sake of design.”

Design also has an important role in protecting and carrying out the rights of individuals. Legal content concerns regular people who have no judicial background or experience. For example, the decisions of the court are binding, but does everyone fully understand the content without the help of an expert? Justice should be understandable and available for everyone. The authorities typically quote sections and articles of different regulations that are far from simple. At this point an average person would ask: what is an article? For a person to be able to use their rights, he/she needs to be aware of them and in addition know how to use them.

“Justice should be understandable and available for everyone.”

Judicial texts are often perceived as boring and hard to comprehend. Successful legal design takes into consideration the needs of the user and the content is portrayed efficiently and transparently, which increases user-friendliness. The need for legal design is apparent and thus it should be utilized more.