Vendor Power – Visual support for street vendor regulations NYC

Please take a look at this project VENDOR POWER of The Center for Urban Pedagogy in New York City, and designed by CANDY CHANG.

This project shows a unique combination of ingredients:

  • An inviting overall look-and-feel
  • High quality communication: the messages are guided by the content, by the interests of the stakeholders and by the target audience.
  • In depth study and representation of the essential information. For example on the allowed sizing of a vendor’s table.
  • Real legal information: not just the topic, the headline or information on resources or reference contacts.
    ” If you follow the rules, you have the RIGHT to vend on a public sidewalk. ”
    “Policy can’t make you move, unless there’s an emergency or there is a big event. “
  • Legal information placed in its context: Street vendors as an iconic part of the urban appeal of New York City . Street vendors as real people, by combining the different types of vendors with short stories. Advocacy to make the street vendor laws work better for different stakeholders.
  • A clean and userfriendly lay-out and poster format.
  • The artwork is simple, but not too simple. Strong lines, but also recognizable people. (see page 1)
  • Icons that are both fresh and understandable: see the icon for the big event-exception. (see page 2, left lower corner)

Very effective and absolutely deserves ‘goodmoodlaw’-honors.

Goodmoodlaw will closely follow the work of Candy Chang. She is a TED Fellow of 2009 and has created more impressive legal information projects and tools.

GOOD Magazine – Transparency Contest – Health Care Bill

Good Magazine excels in information graphics on social innovation. The magazine and the website both display compelling content and inspiring design.

Good Magazine is also the poster magazine for Good Mood Law. They frequently include visual stories from the legal domain. The similarity in name is unintentional, but meaningful. We are not affiliated, yet seem to be part of the same tribe of ‘visionary visualists and shapeshifters for the common good’. The look-and-feel and professional quality of the design of the Good Magazine is beyond contest, simply too good to be true. However, I also feel we are thinking, playing and experimenting in the same conceptual sandbox.

Click here to see the contributions for  the latest Transparency Contest- a rich collection of information graphics on the Health Care Bill. I will give a quick review from the Goodmoodlaw-perspective:

1. Design Haik Avinian: Great look, clear entry point with the legal provision as a headline. A smart design solution to use sunflower image as piechart, zooming in to the detail level in the form of a seed. Careful visualization of sensitive topic.

2. Designed by the Center for American Progress: My first choice. Good storytelling and easy information flow. The low tech look helps people to connect themselves to the information. A clear structure in the distinction between What, Why and How.

3. Design Nate Clancy: A good representation of the political context: financing, lobby and voting. The best representation of the financial resourcing of the bill, on the price tag in the upper right corner.

4. Design Marco Giannini: I like the concept of this map, the inclusion of many aspects, such as previous reform attempts. This richness comes with a price for the clarity and ‘punch factor’. I think the concept of Exchange  between Uninsured and Insured is a great angle as an entry point. This appeals to the ‘What’s in it for me?” question that people have around this bill.

5. Design Nicole Marie Rincon: Inviting, playful, connected information. The pills as icons are interesting. At first glance they seem to be overused, by which they lose their information value. Closer study however shows the meaning of different pills (for example the round red one for pre-existing conditions. This demonstrates that vizualizing is not the same as simplifying.  ‘Reading’ and understanding information graphics is a matter of time and concentrated attention. They have a high information density. The  clauses on pre-existing conditions show up clearly and repeatedly. The terminology on the top is very useful in legal information graphics.

5. Design Tom wilder: A crisp, attractive, one page-fact sheet. The structure of information are less clear. The placement of topics seems somewhat random. For example financial aspects are in different corners. The same font size is used for most of the numbers. There is no visual hierarchy. I would also prefer a different visual clue to distinct between numbers for people and money.

I can’t wait to find out who is the winner , which will be announced tomorrow. So far: my compliments to all submitters for taking on a meaningful and complex topic, including the legal aspects.

Legal promo on beer coasters

The Dutch Department of Economic Affairs invited us to provide some promotional material about the work of Legal Visuals for their annual gathering of lawyers. We could have just shipped a box of flyers, but took the opportunity to design and print some new promotional material.

The result is a beer coaster with a Connect- the – Dots version of our legal icons on the front. The message:|
“Make law inviting with legal icons + information graphics” – Activate legal information users – Connect the numbers and color the shapes.

The back side gives some suggestions for legal communication projects that would benefit from a visual translation:  A  legal dashboard to make terms and conditions, regulations, procedures, compliance projects more transparent.

It also shows a handwritten note and invitation for a free mini brainstorm. Happy Hour for lawyers!

TED video – Let’s simplify legal jargon!

Compelling talk to make clarity, transparency and simplicity  in government and business communication a national priority, by Alan Siegel.

Watch video

Law on the front of a napkin


Finding ideas for goodmoodlaw on the slopes in Arapahoe Basin, Colorado. Life is good.

Here is a strong example of an experiential approach to legal communication: the skier’s responsability code is not only on large posters near the lifts, but also shows up in the restaurants.

The napkin presents a summary of the code. I will deconstruct the information design into  a few building blocks:

1. Simple but effective icon, associating with traffic signs.

2. Plain language, mostly phrased in positive statements.

3. Clear  information design. Shapes, numbers, visual rhythm.

4. Logical practical form: people use napkins in ski resort restaurants.

5. Affordable solution on recycled paper. The napkins are being provided anyway.

6. Multi-sensory law: People pick up this piece of legal information, they use it and they actually touch it with their mouth. Some people might even kiss the rules without noticing. It smells like recycled paper. It makes a rustling sound. Visual support of the message. It also sends a message of lawyers and communicators who care and have thought about  how to package and present the rules, in order to connect with their customers.

Read more: Experiential Marketing – How to get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, Relate   by Bernd Schmitt.

Multisensory Law – online community

Goodmoodlaw is a free form expression of a much more serious field of legal innovation. I would like to introduce you to her ‘sister’ in the established academic legal environment: Multisensory Law is a fresh and promising legal discipline. A group of Swiss, Austrian and German legal professors, thought leaders and researchers have created an ongoing exchange of their work. Their intention is to build a strong foundation of this discipline and to inform a wider legal audience about the meaning and potential of Multisensory Law.

Recently an online community has been initiated by Beck Publishers in Munich, Germany and dr. Colette Brunschwig, lecturer in Law at the Department of Law, Legal Visualization Unit of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Please visit Multisensory Law community , join the community, leave comments and contribute. Both scientific and practical contributions are welcome.

Slow law

P1010281It’s all about balance in life and law. I love the energy of the fast lane, quick thinking and rapid producing.  And I am grateful for my life as a creative monk at other times. I am a big advocate of fast food in the legal field: bite size legal information, portable, understandable and attractively packaged.  However – the trend watcher in me recently started to play with the concept of Slow Law.

What is slow law? It takes a short  travel back in time. Bzzz – Constant contact – Blackberries, cellphones, carphones, email, fax, typewriter, pen and ink – Bzzzz.

After having worked at a large size consulting firm for a while, we suddenly got email. Somewhere in 1998. When I started to work at a small law firm in 1992 we had a fax machine in the office and the older partners complained how this affected their processing time (up) and their thinking space (down). The older secretaries had worked there since the introduction of the copy machine and had started their careers on carbon copy paper and a typewriter. Could anyone who remembers to have worked with hand written legal documents, pen-and-ink style, please send me the historic details? Basically we have had slow law ever since mankind has felt the need to somehow install and enforce some rules of fair play, except for about the last twenty to thirty years. [entertaining for research oriented readers: www.officemuseum.com/copy_machines.htm]

What would be the essential qualities of law in this era, that we would like to preserve and re-install? I now present you the results of my brainstorm, and welcome all other insights.

  • The need to think before you write or act.
  • The level of precision.
  • The level of focus and concentration.
  • The sense of working with really valuable information, that represents one of the pillars of our modern democracies in which we take the rule of law as a given (and not as something we personally have to do anything for).
  • The sense of critical agreements, that you will really think about before entering into and before signing, let alone clicking on some kind of spacey box (” Yes, I accept  your terms and conditions”).
  • The meditative quality of handwriting with pen and ink or even with a fountain pen (try this at home and in the office!). Your brain actually works better, more clear, more creative, more balanced, when it’s going a little slower. Neuro-scientists could tell you all about this.
  • The clear presence  of the human factor: the drops and smudges of ink for errors.
  • Appreciation for the craftmanship of handwriting, and the fine motor skills development that comes with it. This could be a metaphor for the slower ingredients of legal education, such as developing patience, wisdom, understanding, a focus on collaboration. The skills set of the master, the (ideal) oldest partner or colleague in your office.
  • The need to be very concise, selective and clear on what to write. Every extra word is time-consuming and therefore expensive, especially in the stage of reproduction of documents by the scribes of the tribe.
  • The beauty of the profession. In its essence, it is a cool invention to have a dedicated  group of people with clear minds and sharp words work to distinct similarities and differences beyond the appearances of human stories and corporate dramas.
  • The exclusivity of the experience and the perceived value of the documents: use email and telephone for ordinary communication, but if you really commit to a serious business or personal relationship, the type of paper needs to reflect the meaning and importance. Did anyone of you send out wedding invitations by text message? Or decided to accept a business partner with the click of a mouse?
  • The efficiency and productivity : You could actually do more in less time, in a relaxed and focused state of mind. Slow is the new fast.

So, we need to start somewhere to slow down. Here are a few – highly impractical – suggestions for slow law practice:

  • Write with a fountain pen, even when you are making your own notes.
  • Sign letters and documents with pen and ink and invite your clients to do the same.
  • Buy a quill, a feather pen. Or better: go for a hike, find a feather,  then hand carve the tip. Men love their Swiss army tools and women adore men that are actually carry them along at the right moment and demonstrate agility in the use. This must go back to our hunter/gatherer roots.
  • Map out the essence of a business contract or regulatory framework on letter-size paper or a flipchart, before drafting the text.
  • Call your clients, co-workers and professional friends. Even better: have a slow lunch with them.
  • Write a handwritten summary of your legal advice to your management, maximum one page. This will help them slow down too.
  • Walk to the bookstore. Buy a legal textbook, touch the pages. Hear the crisp sound of flipping through the pages.
  • Read the dissertation (full text edition!) of one of your academic heroes in law. If you don’t have any, find a new profession. When finished, send a box of chocolates to the author and a handwritten note on the most poetic sounding concept of the theory. You don’t really have to understand what it is about.
  • Visit the library. Go find the oldest book available. Smell it.
  • Unplug your electronic devices for 30 minutes, then try 60 minutes. You’ll be OK.

P1010280Advanced slow law skills:

  • Hand bind documents that are really important for your clients into a book. (research tip: antique bookbinding techniques). Or go to a nice office store to handpick a good looking binder. Pay a bookbinding class for your secretary. This would slow down and energize her job as well. This is a long term investment in your professional relationship.
  • Read aloud a legal document to older clients. Record it. Give the CD in addition to the paperwork.
  • Embroider your signature and invite other parties to do the same.

For your comfort: slow is in. Good Magazine recently published a special on ‘Slow’.

There also is a (serious) Dutch website, SlowManagement.nl and magazine around this theme.

Goodmoodlawyer

GoodmoodlawyersThe pinstriped, high-heeled charisma of law is unbeatable. Lawyers look good in their professional attire and clients buy generously into it. (Yes, they used to – my guess is that they will do so again – they like to look in the mirror of crisp success – and the DIY toolkits are a great recipe for badmoodlaw) .Tv stations spice it up with some interesting accessories, far beyond the billable hour. The look makes you feel really good, really professional, just perfectly in control. And those Italian pointy-nose shoes simply change an average male creature into someone to seriously pay attention to.

Maybe it’s just me, but considering the soaring market of blogs and coaches for unhappy lawyers, there are some of us dreaming of the dress down. The Pajama Day, the Doodle Day, the Bad Hair day. The ‘We pay your for your genious legal mind and we love you …. just the way you are’- Day.

Softies, right brain thinkers, women, intuitives and idealists somehow are mixed in the legal tribe. You don’t recognize them at first sight. They cover up nicely, think quite sharp and save their liberal ambitions for future purposes. It works, it may work, for a while. But … mellow is who you are.  If it starts to bother you, and the big leap isn’t quite your thing yet …. and you already tried a job in the social justice realm or insurance business, here is my alternative.

Create a GoodMoodLawyer. Draw. Paint, Glue, PlayDoh, Woodwork, Sew, Dream, Embroider, Compose, Dance. Write. Make one for your manager, your paralegal, your best friend in the firm. Or just for yourself and hide him or her in your drawer or suitcase. Treat him/her well and good mood will be on your side.

The other side of the aisle is home to the hardwired left brain, clean, clear, low temperature, just plain natural born lawyers. Really? Maybe they could use a little softening up, too. If it wouldn’t be voluntarily, maybe for the long term health benefits of stress relief and brain chemicals related to some sort of affectionate experience.

And if it’s not your dream, think about your clients, co-workers, friends and family members. How would they feel about meeting the goodmoodlawyer in you? Be inspired to think about the set of strengths, competencies of a skillful, professional, energizing Goodmoodlawyer.

Are there any other fuzzy stuffed lawyer creations out there? Posting your pictures would be a courageous and compassionate act of support for your peers .. and for the other side of law!

Book tip:

The creative lawyer – Michael Melcher

Blogs

legalsanity.com

www.cuttingedgelaw.com

Royal treatment for legal clients + Free gift: bookmark

bookmark-userfriendly-legal-info

Creative visualization or writing exercise for lawyers

Imagine your clients and readers to be a very special guest in your  ideal workspace. Pretend you are a not only a top-lawyer, but a really good host as well: energizing, joyful, interested and dedicated to creating an excellent get-together.

Offer your best chair. The royal one. Serve an exquisite glass of wine or fine cup of green tea. Be perfectionist about the perfect light/ temperature/ sound for the occasion. Smile. Relax. Set your intention to serving this client with your highest level of knowledge, skills and creativity. Aspire to connect all this to the best possible outcome for this client and your sense of well-being in your work.

Allow your guest to settle in, take some time for silence. See your client as a beautiful human being. Here is your opportunity to serve, practice and master your professional passion. Now invite your client to share her story, her concern, her questions. Listen. Hum along. And listen a little more. Breathe. Thank your client for sharing the story. Give a short summary to make sure that you have heard the essence of her concerns. Pull out your bookmark as a reminder. Focus on questions as ‘What does she need to know?’. What does she need to do?’. Allow your legal knowledge, intuition and the genius of silence to collaborate on finding the perfect words.

Now serve your opinion, advice or analysis in a clear, brief and practical manner on a fuzzy velvet purple pillow.
The golden key.
Less words, more insight.
Help your client in her coat.
Offer further guidance  if necessary.

I know … sounds too good to be true? I wish I had come up with this idea when I was a practicing attorney and corporate lawyer. I wish I would have had the awareness, courage and self-mastery to do this. In real life or in imaginary thinking. Quite the contrary. But … it’s never too late. Even when the ‘Mother of your Brother-in-law tells you about her Dreadful Legal Issue on a Birthday Party of your Little Nephew’ you could still give it a try. Or your Biggest Demanding Pushing Rushed Powerful Corporate Client. Play with it. You might have some fun. You might practice some really good listening skills. You might find unique solutions. You might get so into it, that you are transforming into a highly attractive lawyer/consultant. At least you are chipping in some Good Mood Law charm in the commonly perceived reality of the muddy legal puddle.

Now, take a break and sit back in this royal chair yourself. Law is good. Life is good.

Legal gift wrap

inpakpapierFestive moments in life call  for celebration and gifts. Big moments in life usually involve some sort of commitment. To a new partner.  A new baby. A new job. A new house. A new car. A new loan. A new invention. A new business.

The intention of wonderful bliss and success. Infinite trust in the gods. Most of all: unwavering knowing that some invisible legal system has worked out the details. And the legal net will gracefully catch you if you fall, bouncy but safe. As long as you don’t have to READ it. IT? Yes, the fine print of this life event.

Dear lawyers, here is your chance to have fun with the very annoying practical lawyer-side of you. The game-breaker. The party-buster. The other side of the coin. Beyond the surface. Reality bites. Wave the warning flags. Play it serious!

Legal gift wrap. Legal infographics on one side of the paper. A print of real rules on the festive occasion. On the other side a decorative gift wrap pattern of matching icons.

Use the Dutch version for a new baby – designed as a promotional item for Legal Visuals. You can send me an email to receive a PDF in new-business theme, or a new job theme, or to get information on a custom design. Or make your own, I would love to see a copy.

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