Legal Design Alliance

The Legal Design Alliance

LeDA is a network of lawyers, designers, technologists, academics, and other professionals who are committed to making the legal system more human-centered and effective, through the use of design.

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    • Materials: share our curriculum, protocols, planning materials, and strategies — and contribute your own to the network

    Thanks to all of you that have expressed interest in joining the LeDA network. Please note that our Community page has been updated last in November 2020 and does not accept new subscriptions for the moment.

    Legal design applies human-centered design to the world of law to enable desirable outcomes and prevent the causes of problems from arising and developing into conflict and disputes.

    Legal design welcomes cross-professional collaboration and prioritizes the point of view of the users of the law: not only lawyers, judges and regulators, but all people and organizations. 

    As legal designers, we believe that we can make legal products, services, and systems more straightforward, engaging, and user-friendly. This includes how information is presented, how processes are set up, and how policies are established.

    Legal Design bridges domains of academic research and professional practice. It links the business world and the academic world, the management world and the legal world, and the corrective/reactive law world and the proactive/preventive law world. It takes a big-tent approach: to welcome many different kinds of people from practice, academia, government, and the community, and to work closely with many other research groups — acknowledging the value of their work and mindsets. All are welcome to develop a strong practical and theoretical foundation for how law works currently, and how it can work better in the future.

    For us, “Legal” does not only refer to the legislative system, but it includes also doctrine, jurisprudence, decisions, social norms, contractual provisions, policies. We move beyond the static positive law approach, as many other researchers have established. We take a proactive and preventive law stance, meaning that our focus is about empirical reality — not just the law. We work alongside researchers in empirical legal studies, legal realism, law and society, law in action, participatory action research, and others who are working on understanding the reality of law, and who are studying new interventions to improve this reality.

    For us, “Design” is an approach of creating new interventions to make a social system more usable, useful, and accessible. Design is not content to understand the current reality, but it aims to experiment with what could be — and to drive towards social impact by creating new programs and policies. Design creates knowledge by building new things — documents, services, technologies, rules, and systems, piloting them, and evaluating them. Design also takes a wider perspective on what “law” is, by bringing more stakeholders’ perspectives into account, and by looking at an interdisciplinary set of tools and expertise to find promising solutions. With this design focus, we work alongside researchers in human-computer interaction, document and information design, the semantic web, research through design, ICT for development, and privacy and ethics in ICT.

    Legal Design research methodologies range from the small and qualitative, to larger scale quantitative ones. These methodologies aim to better understand the current  realities of the law and its users, with focus groups, surveys, service safaris, design workshops, and statistical analysis. They also aim to generate and vet promising ideas for new interventions, with design jams, hackathons, field tests, lab tests, and pre-pilots and pilot observational studies. Finally, Legal Design researchers evaluate the outcomes of these new interventions, with randomized controlled trials and evaluations of procedural justice, usability, and user experience. These research methodologies are not exclusive, and this website will document these various methods in detail and provide examples with specific studies, datasets, and instruments.

    Legal Design can contribute to better empirical realities, especially if we involve the builders, makers, and users of the legal system into making them. To paraphrase Dean Edward A. Dauer, litigation law is mostly law. Preventive law is mostly facts. And the critical time for Legal Design is when those facts are first being born. Please let us be involved in the making of those facts.

    The Legal Design Manifesto

    This Manifesto defines what a Legal Design approach to law is.

    The Manifesto aims to enhance the understanding of Legal Design and promote its use. Legal Design can help to create functional, inclusive and transparent legal documents, services, and systems. Legal Design requires a paradigm shift in lawyers’ attitudes, goals, and approaches. It also requires the participation of a multidisciplinary community of doers (designers, coders, communicators, behavioral scientists, lawyers, etc.) to bring new perspectives and tools to improve the law.


    Create information, services and systems with the community, based on their needs and abilities, rather than starting with the needs of lawyers and courts.


    Drive desirable outcomes, rather than just deal with the consequences of failure or punishment.


    Prevent problems rather than only intervene to resolve conflicts that have arisen.


    Enable people to be aware of their rights, responsibilities, obligations and prohibitions, rather than just apply prescriptive norms.


    Enable people to understand and do the right thing easily, rather than require considerable investments of time, money, effort or expertise.


    Establish a common language to collaborate across disciplines, rather than following just one perspective.


    Acquire legal knowledge and cross-disciplinary skills through experience, rather than rely on passive learning.


    Research studies are based on robust scientific and theoretical method, following strong methodology and accredited criteria.


    We encourage open access and open data, and we recommend to make research outcomes available for checking, validating, and replicating the results.


    Seek to provide win-win solutions for all the actors involved, rather than accept and perpetuate imbalanced relationships between the parties 


    Seek clarity of the fundamental meaning and consequences of a communication, rather than just precise wording


    Foster the application of legal concepts, rights, and norms in everyday use, rather than just proposing legal arguments


    Facilitate sustainable long-term relationships rather than just quick wins or one-shot connections


    Ensure understanding of legal certainty rather than just guiding legal interpretation


    Focus on aspects that generate value rather than just manage risk


    Our approaches, interventions, and the measurement of their results are evidence-based, grounded in scientific methods, and validated


    Focus on real-life needs and problems to put aside differences and overcome disciplinary barriers


    Integrate approaches from different legal backgrounds, theories, and principles, depending on the problem at hand


    Craft information and interactions with purposeful design rather than just drafting it


    Use visual thinking and communication to secure shared understanding, rather than just relying on words


    Through well designed interfaces, services, and experiences, users can interact with simple and effective solutions rather than with the complexity of the underlying system


    Develop solutions through quick rounds of iteration and experimentation rather than being planned into existence or aiming at perfection from day 1


    Measure the impact of the current design of the system, and new interventions, to ensure meaningful change in how people interact with the system


    Create new solutions with an eye towards making them replicable, systematized, and extensible, rather than relying on a jungle of bespoke different solutions


    Digital solutions are made ready for the semantic web paradigm, supporting digital applications and multichannel-devices

    The Legal Design Manifesto v1 has been written and signed by

    Rossana Ducato, UCLouvain and Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles; Helena Haapio, Lexpert and University of Vaasa; Margaret Hagan, Stanford Legal Design Lab; Monica Palmirani, Associate Professor at University of Bologna, CIRSFID; Stefania Passera, Information Designer and Contract Visualizer, PhD from Aalto University; and Arianna Rossi, PhD candidate in Law, Science and Technology, University of Luxembourg

    We are currently working on a version 2 of the Manifesto!

    Thanks to all of those that have contributed with their comments.

    Who We Are

    These are the founding members of the Legal Design Alliance.

    To be a member of LeDA, anyone can apply. A potential member must demonstrate their legal design work and share resources with the the network. You can also join the LeDA community, to receive information and updates about legal design work.
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    This website was developed by Nóra Al Haider and Margaret Hagan