Conversations on Legal Design

Scientific co-ordinators Rossana Ducato and Alain Strowel




12th of February | 10.45-11.45

Dr. Arianna Rossi

Researcher at Snt, University of Luxembourg


What is legal design? A lightning tour of a multifaceted discipline


In the last few years, we have witnessed an explosion of interest in legal design, both in the practitioners’ world and in the academic sphere. The term is often associated with legal innovation and its domains of application are blossoming. However, the boundaries of legal design action are often blurred, while the scope, the research methods and the merits of this new discipline still need to be rigorously established. During this seminar, we will seek to elaborate some preliminary answers, by interactively exploring a selection of legal design projects in the data privacy domain. Namely, we will examine: (1) legal design as an approach that challenges traditional legal assumptions, for instance, certain beliefs about how humans process information and develop trust in technologies; (2) legal design as interdisciplinary cooperation, through the case of a collaborative project about the transparency of website privacy policies; (3) legal design as a set of empirical research methods to investigate legally-relevant realities, like online manipulative designs (i.e., dark patterns); (4) legal design beyond the problem-solving approach, as a critique of how things are and speculation about how things could be.


19th of February | 11.30-12.30

Professor Monica Palmirani

CIRSFID, Facoltà di Giurisprudenza, Università di Bologna


Legal Design methodology: from the legal analysis to the visual design passing through the legal ontology

Legal Design is an emerging method of communicating legal content in a simpler and more transparent way using a human-centered approach. It is based on the engineering principles of design, on web design techniques, on the canonical principles of the visual artist. But it also includes analysis of legal theory to make sure legal concepts are modelled correctly in visual representation. To meet this objective, we suggest using the methodology of formal legal ontologies as a bridge between legal language and visual representation. This approach also makes it possible to counter the risk of the black box and to implement the right to explanation to detail the process of reduction to visual symbolism. Finally with the legal ontology in the background the graphic representation is fully machine-consumable with the Semantic Web technology. This permits to the algorithms and the search engines to understand better the meaning of the visualization and to build an appropriate knowledge graph of the legal knowledge for supporting the human computer interaction.


26th of February | 11.30-12.30

Associate Professor Helena Haapio

University of Vaasa; University of Lapland; Lexpert.


Legal and human-readable. By design.


This session is based on my cross-professional research and my work as part of legal information design projects, where lawyers have teamed up with business people, designers, and plain language experts to put users in the center. We will explore primary and secondary readers’ needs and what it means when not only the content but also things such as the tone of voice, look and feel, and usability of documents matter – and what we can do about them. The goal: to ensure that what we prepare is legal and human-readable, by design.


Recommended readings: Rob Waller, Contract design for humans: preventing cognitive accidents



23rd of April | 11.30-12.30

Dr. Zohar Efroni

Researcher at Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society (Berlin)


Privacy Icons as Legal Design

The session is divided into two parts. In the first part, we will discuss the meaning of “legal design” (LD), how LD can be defined, and what kinds of aspects in our physical and informational environment may fall under that definition. In the second part, we will discuss privacy icons as a specific example for a certain type of LD or as a technique that applies visual-pictorial stimuli in order to convey legally relevant information and potentially influences the decision-making process of persons who are exposed to them.


If you want to attend the seminars, write an email to:


Posted by rossana

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