The Legal Design Pattern Library
This pattern library is for designers, engineers, and others looking to make wicked systems more user-friendly. We have collected together some essential templates and ways of organizing information that you can use to improve how you engage people.
We are collecting, curating, and illustrating promising models for presenting information, facilitating smart decision-making, and promoting follow-through on smarter behavior.
This resource is for people who know they need to make a system more user-friendly, but aren’t sure what they want to build — they just want to make sure it is usable and engaging.
It also is for people who know what type of intervention they want to create, but who want guidance on how best to create it — with tools, examples, principles, code bases, and best practices.
Find the Right Pattern
What are the key patterns?
Our initial library has 5 orders of Smart Legal Design Patterns, from most traditional to most ambitious.
Where did these come from?
The below patterns were derived from our ongoing work in legal design and course projects, and our survey of the filed. These are designs that can inspire us to create complex info that is more comprehensible, and more actionable.
Within each order, we have many different patterns linked to the same theme. Use this library to explore these orders, and go pattern by pattern to see which might help you in a specific situation.
Gallery of Patterns
1. Visual Representation Patterns
Give the user an overview of the process, with a birds-eye view that will let her visualize what the journey will be.
Lay out the sequence of events, how they may occur for the user, so that she can have an understanding of what to expect in both the short term and the long term. By seeing it as a timeline, she may be able to envision consequences and faraway events in more detail. This pattern can be useful when assessing options or following through on a process.
Give the user a point-by-point, step-by-step set of information, that is actionable. Break up complex information into discrete & sequenced bits of actions, so that they can feel that they know what to do and get some reward in getting it done, checking it off point after point. It can also ensure that people cover all the points that they should, that they don’t forget one thing during their journey through complexity.
Provide a summary of all the information and choices that the user should know, but in a quick and clear summary. It can indicate where the user might want to dig in further if she is interested in that area.
Break up long passages of text into bite-size chunks of content. It can be done by segmenting content into several different pages to click through, or by having it in tabs, modals, or other interface elements that selectively present deep-dive information when the user chooses to open it — but otherwise shows only the headline & quick summary version of the content.
2. Human Consults
Provide a platform where experts on the system can converse with the user to give them information, hear their problems and questions, and supply custom advice and guidance to them.
Connect the user with other non-experts who can tell her about their experiences, their concerns, and their strategies. Even if they are not expert, the peers can help the user feel comfortable in the system and give them direction and options from their real-life experiences.
3. Interactive Tools
Show the user a summary of her overall stats and specific metrics, all in one interface. It can let her see what trends, patterns, and behaviors are happening, so she can draw insights about past behavior and what she might need to change and do in the future. It is a custom graphic, that shows her information specific to her, and helps her make sense of it.
A tool that lets the user enter in her data & preferences, and the tool uses its algorithm(s) to report back to her what an appropriate path is.
A system that interacts with the user like she is in a human-to-human conversation, providing her with questions that classify her issues, that give her just-in-time information, and that encourage her to stay engaged with the system.
Present the user with rewards, levels, and other game-like mechanics to get them engaged in the process. It can be used to teach them about the system, give them sample scenarios and examples, or actually get work product created and tasks accomplished.
4. Behavioral Nudges
Help the user overcome her inability to think about long-term or future outcomes, by giving her explicit reference points, stories, or data about what she will be like in the future depending on what she does now.
Present the user with a very small set of options — curating down the many possible options to a small handful of them, so that it is much easier to make a choice and not get distracted by options and factors that are not as relevant to them.
Give pre-seletected choices to the user that general trends shows would be the smartest choice for her to take in the system, given her background data. The defaults will encourage her to make this choice, by making it clear that this is the best choice and easier to make it (because it’s already selected for her).
Tell other people’s stories (real or fictional) to let a person compare themselves and take inspiration/warning from them. The stories give them concrete scenarios through which they can understand the system and the many possible paths and outcomes that they might have to deal with.
5. AI Smart Tools
Use data from other people’s choices, behavior, and outcomes in order to determine what a ‘wise’ choice would be for the current user, in her current scenario. The crowdsourced data points can predict what she should do.
The user’s behavior and trends are collected and analyzed by the tool, and then the tool presents back to the user a prediction of what the best option for the user is. It can present a single choice or a whole course of action that the user should be taking, based on the user’s own data and the tool’s algorithms.
See more specific libraries, for more specific legal documents and services
Contract Design Pattern Library
Margaret Hagan and Helena Haapio created a Contract Design Pattern Library in 2015, along with a paper for IRIS that documents this work.
Privacy Design Pattern Library
Know Your Rights Pattern Library
In February 2015, our team began assembling a Know Your Rights design pattern library, to catalogue different strategies for communicating basic rights to people.