Visual legal advice

Legal advice has two common forms. The first is a long unreadable memorandum with 80% valuable content and 20% legibility. The second form is a popular column in a magazine with 20% very generic information and 80% of self-promotional value for the lawyer-author.

This article in Metropolis Magazine 09.2010 about copyright protection for design work is a goodmoodlaw exception: On the advice of Counsel.

The article gives a short introduction on five basic categories of copyright protection. Two copyright attorneys then analyzed five design products. The article looks attractive and provides a good basic impression of the legal assessments. One page per design, with an overview of the applicability of each form of legal protection, marked with a plus or a minus sign.

A few years ago, I created a pilot version of a visual legal memorandum for a major financial case. My clients, a team of high end litigation attorneys, thought that the set of information graphics would not be appealing to their clients in the banking industry and would reduce the value and the image of their work. The experiment ended, but the argument survived. I still believe that even top level, highly educated professional clients would welcome legal advice in an accessible format with visual support.  Not in place of the (expensive) complete textual version, but in addition to it.

Smart and busy people need to share legal advice in a nutshell with others who have to act or decide somehow on it. Attorneys can provide inviting visual tools, if they want. Corporate legal counsels can ask for this, if they want. Top level managers can insist on it, if they stop believing that legal information needs to look bad and feel even worse.

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