Visualisation of Law and Legal Process: An Opportunity Missed

11/01/2020
by   Scott McLachlan, et al.
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Visual representation of the law and legal process can aid in recall and discussion of complicated legal concepts, yet is a skill rarely taught in law schools. This work investigates the use of flowcharts and similar process-oriented diagrams in contemporary legal literature through a literature review and concept-based content analysis. Information visualisations (infovis) identified in the literature are classified into eleven described archetypal diagram types, and the results describe their usage quantitatively by type, year, publication venue and legal domain. We found that the use of infovis in legal literature is extremely rare, identifying not more than ten articles in each calendar year. We also identified that the concept flow diagram is most commonly used, and that Unified Modelling Language (UML) is the most frequently applied representational approach. This work posits a number of serious questions for legal educators and practicing lawyers regarding how infovis in legal education and practice may improve access to justice, legal education and lay comprehension of complex legal frameworks and processes. It concludes by asking how we can expect communities to understand and adhere to laws that have become so complex and verbose as to be incomprehensible even to many of those who are learned in the law?

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