Legal design favourites

top tips - tools - publications

My hand-picked top tips on legal design publications, products and tools to help you on your legal design journey.

 

These are tools I love and work with every day, book authors who inspired me, and publications from legal design professionals that contribute to the development of our profession.

Pssst…. If you purchase any of these products by using the links below, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend things I fully support. 

Legal Design Publications

The Legal Design Book

Doing law in the 21st century

Astrid Kohlmeier & Meera Klemola

The must-read legal design book of the year, setting out ten legal design philosophies, the design process, real-life examples and the value of legal design. Must. Read.

 

Get yours in English or German.

Create Contracts Clients Love

Verity White

A hands-on approach to user-friendly, pragmatic contracts. Verity’s informal writing style combined with in-depth knowledge of how to draft and design effective contracts make it a joy to read. Make sure to get the book and the workbook.

Basisboek Legal Design

Ontwerpen voor toegankelijk recht 

Ineke van den Berg Peter van den Heuvel, Derkiene van der Ziel Ilona van de Kooi

The basics of legal design (in Dutch) from a hands-on education perspective. This book features Dutch legal design showcases and includes exercises for education purposes. 

Legal Design Perspectives
Theoretical and Practical Insights from the Field
Rossana Ducato, Alain Strowel
 

Although I only feature books here that I’ve read and can recommend, I included this one, even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Rossana Ducato is one of the main academic researchers in legal design. Her work contributes to the development of academic standards of legal design. 

 

The volume brings together critical essays on the nature and methods of legal design and illustrations from the practice. The contributions provide the readers with the state of the art of legal design and a prospective outline of its future development. 

Legal Design
Integrating business, design and legal thinking with technology

Marcelo Corrales Compagnucci, Helena Haapio, Margaret Hagan, and Michael Doherty Integrating business, design and legal thinking with technology

 

This is another book that I must feature here but have not been able to read myself. The authors of this book were at the forefront of legal design, they were among the founders of the concept of legal design. Their experience and continuous research and publications make this a must-have. I will add my perspective on this book once I’ve finished reading it. 

Legal Design Patterns
Towards a new language for legal information design

Arianna Rossi, Rossana Ducato, Helena Haapio, Stefania Passera, Monica Palmirani

 

Design patterns are structures that work as the backbone of legal designs. The excellent work for the Contract Design Pattern Library (see here) has inspired many legal design professionals and new enthusiasts. 

 

Patterns are conceptual schemes or entities describing solutions to a recurring legal problem, helping to make contracts, disclosures and policies accessible to users and easier to prepare. In this paper, the authors take stock of existing legal design patterns and pattern libraries and present the idea of a legal design pattern language intended to lead to documenting and sharing good practices across disciplines and to more actionable pattern libraries.

Legal Design Publication Shortlist

Updated regularly - share your tips with me!

Law by Design – Margaret Hagan – One of the initiators of legal design at Stanford University. Margaret’s work is considered the foundation of legal design practice.

 

Legal Design podcast by Henna Tolvanen and Nina Toivonen – A series featuring some of the leading legal designers and legal design consultants.

 

Stefania Passera’s publications on visualisation and contracts – Stefania’s works are leading in contract design. She explains design patterns, contract design research and real-life examples.

 

Visual Contracts Whitepaper – Visual Employment Contracts – Deep dive in employment contract design

 

A new role for the court, Activating, informing and guiding defendants for an accessible and understandable subdistrict judge, Rens de Graaf, master thesis – A fascinating perspective on the defendant’s experience of going to court.

 

Publications by the Simplification Centre – features publications on contract design patterns, terms and conditions and design of legislation. 

 

IP Reports – Shaping Choices in the Digital World – From dark patterns to data protection: the influence of ux/ui design on user empowerment

 

The Behavioral Insights Team Improving consumer understanding of contractual terms and privacy policies: evidence-based actions for businesses

 

Books On Creative & Visual Thinking

Creative Confidence – Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Shows the power of creative thinking, its business value and how to foster creative skills. I believe we all have creativity, but some train these muscles more than others. This book will encourage you to tone those muscles.

Change By Design – Tim Brown

The definitive book on design thinking. It helps understand how design differs from design thinking. It’s filled with examples of how a design approach helps solve societal and business challenges.

Matthew Syed – Rebel Ideas

Working collaboratively is essential to legal design, and this books highlights all advantages of working in cognitive diverse teams. Case studies illustrate the benefits of cognitive diversity, drawing from psychology, economics and anthropology research. Should be mandatory reading for all lawyers. I read this from start to finish in just days.

More book recommendations

Good services – Lou Downe

 

User Friendly – Cliff Kuang with Robert Fabricant

 

Blah blah blah, What to do when words don’t work – Dan Roam

 

Laws of UX – Jon Yablonski

 

Design is storytelling – Ellen Lupton

 

Graphic design, the new basics – Ellen Lupton & Jennifer Cole Phillips

 

Thinking with type – Ellen Lupton

 

Visual Doing – Willemien Brand

Design Skills

Favourite platform for learning legal design

Legal Creatives – Learning platform for creativity and legal design. Immersive programs to empower legal professionals to think creatively about the law and build their business. Learn from leading legal design experts and join the community of legal innovators.

 

My #1 recommended platform to get started with legal design; I love their approach and applaud how Legal Creatives trains new legal design professionals.

 

Join the Legal Creatives Academy to start your legal design learning journey! Get access to all videos, course materials and community events. Network and learn legal design skills to upscale your role as a legal professional. Visit the Academy to learn more!

If you’re ready to step up your legal design game, the Legal Creatives Certification program is for you! Delve deeper into design skills and methods and earn your certification to enhance your career by establishing yourself as a legal design certified professional. Go straight to the Certification program to enrol!

Favourite creative skills learning platform

Skillshare – Online learning community where you can explore thousands of classes in design, photography, business, and more. Learn illustration techniques, share your work with the community and develop creative skills. My favourite creative online learning platform.

 

Visit Skillshare and be amazed about the creativity and versatile skills you can learn, all from the comfort of your own home. 

 

I’ve learned about drawing techniques and creative business ownership, but love to indulge in plant care or candy making too..

Legal Design Communities

These are my recommendations. Any other suggestions?

Visual Contracts community – Join the monthly meetups, participate in testing sessions and learn from each other

 

Legal Creatives community – Participate in creative challenges, get feedback on your legal design projects and more in this learning community

 

Dutch Legal Design Lab – Follow the Dutch Legal Design Lab’s activities and join events

 

Creative Mornings – the world’s largest face-to-face creative community. Not related to law but I’ve included it because it’s a wonderful creative community. A great place to meet other creatives and be inspired.

Tools

Canva – the visual design tool for non-designers, perfect for creating content. I use it for scheduling my social media posts and making easy animations. You can make anything with Canva: from presentations to resumes, business cards, infographic elements and workbooks. Get the Pro version and set up your  brand materials (logo, colours, images) so you’re never off-brand.

Mural – online visual collaboration and whiteboarding tool, like Miro. The templates and canvases are endless and provide a best starting point for an interactive online meeting. Get the Pro version to enjoy all functionalities.

Miro – online visual collaboration and whiteboarding tool. A total gamechanger – use it for workshops, client meetings and live designing. Mural and Miro are alike, I prefer Miro’s mindmapping tool though.

Creative Market – ready-to-use design products like templates, illustrations, fonts and print designs. Some require design software (like Photoshop), some are usable for everyone. Best for those who have a bit of design experience.

 

Check out the PowerPoint templates, Instagram posts templates, resume templates, or business illustrations

Loom – my favourite video messaging tool for work: Loom helps me make videos that show me and my screen at the same time, so I can explain the design, give instructions or ask questions. Game changer.

The Noun Project – my go-to place for icons. They literally have millions. A great place to start collecting icons to use in your content. Download in image file to use as-is, or download editable as svg file.

Wacom Tablet – a pen tablet in my view is essential for any visual work, but can easily replace your mouse altogether. Wacom is top notch. Start with a basic model, no need to buy pro devices. I use the Wacom Intuos.

Blackwing Pencils – high-end, expensive pencils but my absolute favourite. All my designs start with sketches drawn with Blackwing pencils. They’re gorgeous and high-quality all the way.

Moleskine notebook – High-quality off-white paper, sewn spine. What’s not to love. Together with my Blackwing pencils my essential tools.

Whitepaper

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Resources and templates designed by Aclara

Get started with easy-to-use legal design

Infographics

Help your clients understand better what they can expect in litigation.

Legal icons

Improve your legal communication with easy-to-use icons.

Templates

Wow your prospect clients and enhance your elevator pitch with the PowerPoint templates.

'What is legal design?' and other questions answered…
Check out Aclara’s FAQ

Blogs written by Anna

Design takes a user-centred (or human-centred) approach that is different from law. But lawyers and designers have commonalities too.
Transforming legal literature with Wolters Kluwer: designing infographics for online legal research. Let’s take a look at the design decisions.

Want to learn more?