Yesterday the Legal Design Jam held in Milan was a great time. Info designers and legal innovators together, for the first time in Italy.
What we did
The four groups at work transformed that nightmare of a law into:
All of this. Really.
All the results were minimum viable products which were in practice already usable.
It took us 9 hours to turn something ugly into something beautiful and fun.
Tweets from the event here, storified by Robert Richards.
Other than writing on this blog, being involved in too many projects and being incredibly hot, I’m also the social media sociable person for [maybe] the first Italian legal startup, Peppercorn.
Peppercorn is the place for creating your contracts, in a few steps and in multiple languages.
You have 3,5 minutes? Read it.
You have 1 minute? Then just sign up for the beta.
You just have 30 seconds? Then just read this list:
They make a legal design jam.
A legal design jam is an event where lawyers meet non lawyers and they together work on a legal document to make it over. Massively.
That’s not my usual habit and that’s a reason for it. No, wait, at least 3.
3 reasons why you should go either you are a lawyer or an information architect, a designer, a UX person.
A legal design jam is a battle against legalese. No one -not even lawyers- understands this convulse mixture of jargon and convoluted syntax. And well, maybe everyone is free to use whatever the ugliest jargon he wants to (although I contend also this - startup people have their jargon too and it gets on my nerves). But at least this is out of question when it comes to the Law. Law _must _be clear. Period.
Design is not only about the nice frills and colors you put around. Visualization is not only something that makes information clearer. Visualization is information. Said another way, some information could never possibly be read and understood without savvy visualization (think about big data).
The Legal Design Jam is in Milan. That would be a chance to gather the small Italian legal-tech community. All together in one place, think of it. We would make an easy target for old school lawyers, if they ever decided to clear us out.
Well, I’m taking the risk. Are you meeting me there?
The dynamic duo is now touring the U.S. and organizing their next little bit of magic: WeHave the Future, a summer camp on Law & Economics in northern Italy, where 60 lucky students will meet 25 prestigious teachers.
The project is big and only growing bigger! Marco and Francesca are continuously involving people like Roland Vogl (Stanford), Bill Emmott (formerly of The Economist), and Luigi Zingales (Chicago Booth School of Business). They explain the whole thing here. Read it, get excited, inquire, get involved!
**Law and Economics are intertwined, but we often forget. **
There is a visceral and natural link between law and economics. We need law to make business; we need law to drive economics; we need economic methods to measure law. But the Law and Economics School had little success within European academia in the last century.
We were too busy saying that the Law must be obeyed because it is the Law. Students forgot to ask why the Law was the way it was. What were its objectives? Did it manage to attain them? What were its effects? We forgot to ask the reason behind the laws until the reason vanished. The law became a moral/political opinion, something which, like opinions, is neither right nor wrong, but nonetheless must be obeyed.
**We need to be as precise as possible when it comes to Law. **
But Law is not opinion. If Law and Economics can teach us anything, it is that the law is – to a certain extent – measurable, and its impacts are quantifiable. We can do math with law. We can answer questions like: _ What will be the impact of this statute? Did it achieve the effect we wanted it to have? What do we need to enact to have effect X on the economy? What are the best provisions to boost economic life? How are judges going to settle that matter? _
We, the Europeans, have forgotten how to answer these questions. We, the lawyers, have too often applied the non scientific - humanist approach to the legal field. After all, we have chosen to go to Law School also because we loathed math.
Now WeHave the Future is taking Law & Economics to Europe. They are giving it back to the people, and they are making it simple, practical, and usable. And they didn’t wait for Academia.
I warned you, I like lists. So I made another list. I called it Big Data & Law*. It gathers articles, posts and other stuff about Law and Data: Data Science applied to Law. How can data be used to forecast legal decisions? How can big data be exploited for legal research?
These and other exciting questions try to be answered there.
It’s a list in progress made through [Urlist] (http://urli.st) and the cool thing is that you can collaborate to it. Add links. Let’s make it grow larger.
11 Links from: big data and law—Serena Manzoli, via Urlist
Let’s say that I need to install a solar panel on my roof and I’m trying to find out what regulations apply and what I have to do. Or, let’s say that I want to know what are the rules concerning environmental impact assessment in my country. It’s not an easy thing. Probably I don’t know exactly the statute and often provisions are scattered through a bunch of different statutes. I’ll need to google “Environmental Impact Assessment”, get the statute name, have to browse through it, find the exact provision. Then I’ll find out that it makes reference to another piece of legislation, need to google some more, and so on.
The eternal problem is that law is a mess, but we need to find what we look for. That’s what Legal Atlas wants to do. To help people find the law that they need.
It’s a global legal database (for environmental law).
How it works.
It’s very simple. Law is divided into topics: environmental impact assessment, food law, animal trade etc… You choose the topic and the country. If you need the relevant provisions, choose ‘laws’, and that’s it. You get only the relevant provisions on that _topic for _that country. If you want to dig deeper, choose case law, opinions by public bodies, expert opinions, exemplary real cases (stars), data concerning the area etc. and you’ll have the full picture on that topic.
Why I like it
If you want to help out or know more get in touch with Jim Wingard.
After I had the idea of calling myself a legal architect, quite a lot of people ask me to suggest some readings on Legal Architecture or Legal Design. (=information architecture, UX, service design, graphic design applied to the legal field).
While there’re a lot of good readings on Information Architecture, UX and Service Design (with plenty of insights and good practices that can be translated to the Legal field) there are not so many focused solely on the legal field.
14 Links from: #legal architecture and legal design
information architecture, user experience and design applied to the legal field
I divided the list into 4 sections.
1. Legal design: articles that focus on design applied to the legal information and visualization of legal information.
2. Legal architecture strictu sensu and Knowledge Management: articles that focus on UX, IA and KM applied to the legal information.
3. Traditional legal taxonomy. Yeah, you’ll ask, how legal taxonomy is different from legal architecture? They both have to do with organizing legal information after all. In my mind, legal architecture is legal taxonomy taken to the XXI century. So I put in the “legal taxonomy” section all the articles which I found more ‘traditional’, with regard to the methodology used, whereas I put in the “legal architecture” section all the stuff which borrows from IT, IA, UX, design, no matter how scientifically rigorous they are.
4. Complexity in the law. What makes the law complex? This section hosts links to articles and projects (like the beautiful Good Law project, by the UK government) which aims to find out why law is so damn complex, inaccessible and unintelligible.
Now I’m curious, very curious to know if my hypothesis are going to be verified. That is, if
1. Such a legal folksonomy will enhance findability for non-legal users;
2. Folksonomies will make their way into legal teaching;
3. Folksonomies will change the way lawyers think about law.
Point 1. can be tested quite easily I think. For points 2 and 3 we need some more years.
I can wait.