Legal Design: Definition

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What is legal design? What is the purpose of legal design? What is its added value in the legal department? These are questions that you have been asked constantly for almost a decade.

These questions are regularly and legitimately hammered since the beginning of 2010 in the United States and since a few years in France to evangelize and spread the Legal Design culture within our companies.

And it works! Legal Design is becoming more and more important in the innovation process of our Legal Departments. Thanks to the impact of the teams that carry out these projects and of many legal designers, this method is more and more considered as a performance lever rather than a buzzword.

These same actors will not go against our opinion: it is time to normalize or even trivialize the practice of Legal Design in a functional way rather than continuing to approach it as a new innovation trend.

So, obviously, this is probably the umpteenth definition of legal design proposed on your search engines on the subject. This is why we have decided to propose a definition, which we hope is detailed, clear and concrete.

The objective? To guide you in discovering or re-discovering the fundamentals of Legal Design.

Legal Design: What is it? 

Legal design is a technique, a subject, a method and a multidisciplinary state of mind that borrows the methodologies of design to apply them to the conception, practice and dissemination of law. It consists in placing the users of the law at the center of its creative process to convey the most understandable, engaging and usable message possible.

✅ The purpose of legal design‍

"Create, at last, a satisfying user experience of the law" according to Marie Potel-Saville, founder of Amurabi, which is among the pioneers of legal design in France.

✅ Multiplicity of needs

There are as many users as there are legal needs. The legal design can be used by a local authority for its citizens, by a company for its end customers, by a legal department for its internal customers or by a law firm for its customers.

✅ Definition of Legal Design according to Margaret Hagan

This diversity of needs is in line with the definition proposed by Margaret Hagan, Director of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford and a pioneer in legal design. She defines legal design, in a global way, as an exploratory design and empirical research work to reimagine the functioning of the legal system.

✅ Legal design is also a method borrowed by lawyers

How can I detach myself from my legal expertise to go beyond it and understand my clients' problems in order to provide them with clear operational legal answers. Clear in the language and clear in the structuring. This is how Sihem Ayadi, founder of Juridy, defines the first step towards the adoption of the legal design mindset. It is about adopting an empathetic state of mind and applying the methods of user research or understanding of one's persona, also applied in the field of Design and Marketing, to deliver the most adapted and engaging message possible.

✅ Legal design is characterized by key rules and principles

Legal design is also, and logically, a method that is characterized by key rules and principles that help guide those who wish to implement it (we will discuss them later in this article).

Among the main axes to remember:

  • Structuring and navigation through the medium used: Hold the attention of its readers in the face of information overload. Capture attention and ensure retention of this attention through a facilitated navigation that allows to understand
  • Visualization : using formats adapted to the message and the information you wish to convey).

✅ Legal design as an opportunity for in-house counsel

Legal design as a practice, method and state of mind represents an opportunity for in-house lawyers. If this method is understood and applied on a daily basis, it allows the development of soft skills that will help you to progress and evolve in your daily life as a person, but also as an in-house lawyer.

✅ Legal Design is an interprofessional discipline

‍Finally, legal design is characterized by its interprofessionality. It is from the cooperation between lawyers and designers that the added value created is born. Profiles collaborating with legal teams hold the following positions: UX Designer, UI Designer, UX Writer, Content Creator etc...

What legal design is not

It is often important to deconstruct a concept in order to better understand it. Let's start by pointing out what legal design is not.

❌ "Legal Design is a suite of legal information, pictograms, illustrations or icons."

Conduct user research, understanding and designing your personas.
Remember that you are not conveying your message for yourself but for others. Unless proven otherwise, no one can claim to know better than others what they want, unless they have asked them and studied them.

What is the objective of your approach? What are your targets? Are they different? If so, is it appropriate to segment your message according to each persona? What are their needs? Their concerns? How do they relate to the topic? What is their interest in the topic? What are their consumption habits? etc.

Once you have asked these questions, found the answers, researched and written them, the work of producing your deliverable will be simplified. Your design work, structuring the information will have more meaning and impact.

❌ "Legal Design is overly popularized, purged of all substance and therefore utility."

Nothingness is the bane of popularization. Popularization is the process of adapting technical knowledge to make it accessible to a non-specialist audience. The trap would be to remove important information to meet a logic of simplicity. Less text, therefore easier to understand for example. However, there are solutions to avoid these pitfalls.

For example, simplifying the definition of a complex legal concept:

  1. Begin in a few lines with an overall definition in plain legal language.
  2. Evoke the conditions of this legal concept in a synthetic way and add hypertext links to a text, a video, a podcast explaining each of these conditions.
  3. Add concrete use cases corresponding to the most regularly encountered risks on this legal concept. Involve your own internal customers in a short podcast format. Have them tell the story of the operation, ask them the right questions. Decrypt the interview at the end by explaining what to do in such situations.

❌ "Legal Design is all about infographics and illustrations."

No, because everything depends on your message, your objective, your target and their consumption habits. Unless you have a very good knowledge of your targets and tangible data at your disposal, it will be the user research work conducted upstream that will allow you to define the appropriate format.

  • Article, Mail, Video, Audio, Magazine, Conference, Event, Mini-series ? Etc.
  • Mobile, Desktop?
  • Short format ? Long format ?

All you have to do is ask the people involved or observe their consumption habits.

Legal Design in Legal Management

Here are some concrete examples of the application of Legal Design in Legal Management. 

Legal Design and Contracts

Redesign of the General Sales Conditions or any other type of support requiring more clarity.

Example : Suntory Beverage & Food, Finalist for the Innovation Award in Legal Management.

Legal Design and Corporate

All documentation relating to a Merger & Acquisition transaction for shareholders or documentation relating to a General Meeting of a listed company for

Legal Design and Litigation

Conclusions drafted by adopting the legal design technique and taking into consideration the lack of time and the volume of cases handled by the magistrates, the preparation of the case by the legal assistant to simplify their work and better convey an argument.

‍Forexample: insert clickable links at the level of arguments referring to evidence.

Legal Design and Franchises

Conclusions drafted by adopting the legal design technique and taking into consideration the lack of time and the volume of cases handled by the magistrates, the preparation of the case by the legal assistant to simplify their work and better convey an argument.

‍Forexample: insert clickable links at the level of arguments referring to evidence.

Legal Design and Taxation

Explanation sheets presenting and comparing two tax optimization strategies within a single company.

Associated with the diagram, a pre-recorded audio format can also be added to explain complex terms or the strengths and constraints of each strategy. This document can be a real added value for decision making.

Legal Design and Compliance

Sapin II Law:

  • Integrate the code of conduct into the appropriate work environments, in the workflows of your internal customers.
  • Avoid the 400 page unintelligible bible effect.
  • Provides the right information at the right time, making it more useful and therefore more engaging.

Legal Design and Personal Data

Questionnaire allowing marketing teams to perform an autonomous audit to verify the compliance of a marketing campaign before its launch. Depending on the answers, the compliance or non-compliance with the RGPD, the type of campaigns and the type of data processing, personalized indications are provided as they come in.

Legal Design and Social Law / Human Resources

A collective agreement designed, communicated and negotiated by the company and its CSE.

Legal Design and Process

Formalize and document the processes, the current or exceptional operations of a company while avoiding the "400-page Bible" effect that nobody consults.

Formalize the processes so that they are adapted to the needs and habits of those who apply them while making them come alive. All formats are allowed if they are adapted to the desired objective.

‍Example ofcumulative objectives related to the Sapin II law:

  • Prevent and detect the commission of corruption or influence peddling in France or abroad
  • Put in place the necessary devices to ensure the smooth running of an AFA inspection
  • Reduce the risk of financial penalties against the company

Process documents are not necessarily Word and PDF documents and can be the subject of emailing campaigns or automated reminders triggered by the occurrence of a related event.

‍Forexample: participation in a call for tenders triggers the sending of an email campaign on the Do & Don't of this type of operations.

Legal Design and Training

With few exceptions, legal training sessions are very often the most anticipated moment for a company's employees.

Serious game, video-on-demand format, face-to-face format. There are many training formats. It's up to you to make sure that yours takes the following elements into consideration.

  • Your target sees an interest in it: if not, how to bring it closer to his issues.
  • Your target covets, is comfortable, does not feel constrained by the format you offer.
  • Your target will be rewarded or recognized after the training (you may or may not define levels).
  • You will provide your target with a series of resources that can be used in their daily life without drowning them or overloading them with useless information.

‍Example: FI Group, Finalist for the Innovation in Legal Management Award.

Some key rules and principles of legal design

🚩 Disclaimer: We do not hold the absolute truth. These key legal design rules and principles are borrowed from the Design Thinking methodology and the research work conducted by Margaret Hagan.

  1. Transform long passages of your text without visual spacing into more readable sections.
  2. Use headings (H1, H2, H3, Hn) to better structure your text.
  3. Use bullet points, nested lists to simplify the reading of your document.
  4. Focus on simple, short sentences instead of complex ones.
  5. Delete unnecessary terms, phrases, words and other turns of phrase.
  6. Highlight visually important passages (boxes, boxes, etc...).
  7. Use bold and italics sparingly to really make important passages stand out.
  8. Follow the direction of reading in Z to structure your document.
  9. Top left of document: most important information to remember from the document.
  10. Bottom right: for the least important.
  11. Use colors sparingly: too many colors, or even the wrong colors, can scatter your reader's visual focus.
  12. Do not use capital letters for long sentences (cf. Council of State rulings): it tires the eye of your reader and does not allow him to consciously and efficiently take note of your content.
  13. Don't hesitate to be emphatic to affirm and reaffirm an important point.
  14. Don't be afraid of white space to air out your document.
  15. Set up a visual hierarchy of information using typography, font size or color.
  16. Use your software's grids to ensure clean, aligned and balanced content.
  17. Use two typefaces maximum, if you use two, some designers recommend using two contrasting typefaces (serif/non serif).
  18. Do not use too extravagant fonts that could distract your reader's attention.

Legal Design and reading sense
Sense of reading

Some people to follow in the Legal Design ecosystem

Margaret Hagan

Marie Potel Saville

Miroslav Kurdov

Robert de Rooy

Sihem Ayadi

Stefania Passera

Some designers to listen to outside the legal design ecosystem

Sometimes, better than a legal design mooc, it can be interesting to listen to and surround yourself with people experienced in the subject. They will be more than happy to exchange with you, in the way they find most appropriate. To your emails, linkedin messages, or Twitter DMs! It is by feeding your curiosity through exchange that you will progress!

🎙️ Léa Mendes Da Silva - VP Design @Payfit

🎙Sébastien Navizet - Senior Manager, Creative Services @Algolia

🎙️ Marine Dias - User Research Expert @Algolia

🎙️ Morgane Peng - Director of Experience Design @Société Générale

🎙️ Benoit Drouillat - VP Design @Botify

Some tools we recommend you use to get started in Legal Design

A notebook and a black marker

  • Opinion: Useful for some, useless for others. Putting your ideas on paper is never a bad idea.
  • Tutorial: *Mighthave been necessary in view of our typing habit. We keep hope on your ability to recall handwritten memories.*
  • Rates: 3-25€ depending on your desires, needs and supplier.
  • Strength: Putting your ideas down and structuring them on a piece of paper is often a good first step in structuring your thinking.


  • Review: Canva's ease of use has made it one of the most popular tools used by novices to create visuals. Be careful not to get stuck in the templates offered. Canva can be a good first step if you want to get started, but the template banks will probably limit your creativity. In general, you will have less developed features than a design software proper.
  • Tutorial: Canva - Courses - Design School
  • Pricing: Has freemium access - Canva Pricing
  • Strength: Allows you to create visuals without any knowledge or experience in using design software.


  • Opinion: One of the most used design software for a few years by Design, Product and Marketing teams. Figma is distinguished by a fluid user experience that allows newcomers to appropriate the tool in a few hours of use.
  • Strong point: Its simplicity of use, its integrations, its bank of resources made available in the Figma Community.

Adobe Illustrator

  • Opinion: Adobe Illustrator is also one of the most widely used design programs, requiring a little more training and expertise than Figma for example.
  • Tutorial : Illustrators Tutorials
  • Rates : Has a trial period - Rates
  • Strong point: Your design, creative and marketing teams probably work on this type of tool. This will allow you to share its use and to use the graphic resources created by your company. 


  • Notice: Sketch is also a graphic design software. It is also intended for graphic artists, designers, developers and can easily be taken in hand by any neophyte. Its use is more focused on web than print.
  • Tutorial: Sketch 101: Create your first designs
  • Rates : Sketch rates
  • Good to know: Sketch is only intended for Mac users, which limits its use, especially for collaboration.


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