The Authoring Tool is a legal design pattern that helps experts to easily & cleanly create resources for others. It is a device to take the experts’ knowledge from their mind and to fit it into structured, designed layout that will transform the knowledge into a tool.


It’s worth creating an Authoring Tool when you want to give experts a way to capture their own knowledge, and get it packaged into a standardized communication for many other people to access and use. This knowledge could be about how to follow a legal process, who is eligible for a service, or what resources are available to people. The authoring tool would allow the expert to effectively capture their own knowledge and put it into a pre-fab design that will make sure that it is communicated well.


Authoring tools give the expert user a limited, constrained set of options in which to lay out their knowledge. This cuts down on the burden of creating resources, because the authoring tool directs the expert on how her information should be structured and presented. The tool may give limited options about the styling or content of the resource the expert it will create. But many of the decisions are made by the authoring tool, and the expert can just follow its lead.

The authoring tool can enable several functions that could offer value to legal experts

  • Allows resources sharing, to help laypeople and other professionals access what one person has developed over years of hard work
  • Communicate knowledge, taking the expertise that they’ve developed and formalizing it into a way that is easy to share and communicate to others
  • Tell stories, that tell others about what previous people like them have done, and what has worked the best
  • Guide others, by putting their knowledge into standard usable ways that could replace time-intensive one-to-one repetitive conversations
  • Shortcut to good product, that lets them do what they do best (presenting legal content and expertise) adn trusts to others about the best way to communicate this
  • Prefab design, so they do not need to invest in a design process to figure out what is the best way of communicating their knowledge


Most authoring tools will have the same flow of interactions between the users & the tool:

  1. The user is an expert in a content area
  2. She is a novice in design and tech
  3. She wants to convey expert content to others
  4. She enters content into authoring tool
  5. She customizes the style of the planned output
  6. The tool spins out well designed output
  7. She distributes it to end users, people who will use the resource

A good authoring tool will be intuitive and lightweight for the expert to use. It should fit their offline way of transferring knowledge, as well as their mental models about how to represent their knowledge.