Seminar on Law, Design and Rhetoric

10 May 2019 | h. 10.30-11.20

Faculté de droit et criminologie, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-neuve | MORE 66-67


Law, Design, Rhetoric: some Practical and Theoretical Questions

Rhetorical skills are a crucial ability for a lawyer. How can we use them in order to structure our work? and what are the convergences with design? We are going to explore this relationship with Alvise Schiavon, postdoc researcher at the Faculty of Law, University of Trento



The crisis of the philosophical positivism in the first half of the XX century involved a shift in the epistemic status of design, law and rhetoric which revealed the intimate interrelations among the three disciplines. The digital revolution in the age of fast-growing communication technologies pushed forward the convergence: rhetoric, law and design are now intended as crucial knowledges for understanding and shaping objects and processes in the digital environment.

Rhetoric can be defined as the art of producing reasonable arguments for persuading the listener. At the hearth of it lies the idea of controversy, dialogue and intersubjectivity. It recalls the need to take in consideration the peculiar features of the audience and the importance of developing our thoughts in dialogue with real or virtual contrasting motions.

Rhetoric impacts the study and practice of legal design in several ways. I will focus on two domains: the method of investigating and solving problems of legal design; the way of presenting the results of the job in a persuasive text or speech. As for the method for approaching (tackling) cases concerning legal design, ancient and contemporary rhetoric highlights the importance of mental patterns (loci, placements) helping the inventions of possible solutions; furthermore, it suggests the method of oppositions (or negation) for exploring alternatives and anticipate criticalities. As for the ways of presenting and grounding the resulting opinion in front of different audiences, the basic theories concerning the structure of a persuasive speech and models of argumentation will be sketched.



T. Viehweg, Topik und Jurisprudenz, Beck, 1953 (translation Topics and law: a contribution to basic research in law, P. Lang, 1993)

Ch. Perelman – L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, La Nouvelle Rhètorique: Traité de l’Argumentation. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958 (translation The New Rhetoric: Treatise on Argumentation, University of Notre Dame Press, 1969)

S. Toulmin, The Uses of Argument, Cambridge university Press, 1958 (2nd edition 2003)

D. Walton, Argument structure: a pragmatic theory, University of Toronto Press, 1996

D. Walton, Argument Schemes for Presumptive Reasoning, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.

F.H. van Eemeren – R. Grootendorst – F. Snoeck Henkenmans, Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory. A Handbook of Historical Backgrounds and Contemporary Developments, Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 1996.

E. T. Feteris, Fundamentals of legal argumentation. A survey Theory on the Justification of Judicial Decision, Kluwer, 1999.

R. McKeon, The uses of rhetoric in a technological age: Architectonic productive arts, in Bitzer, Lloyd F. and Black, Edwin (Eds.), The prospect of rhetoric, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

R. Buchanan, Rhetoric, humanism, and design, in R. Buchanan – V. Margolin, (eds.), Discovering design: explorations in design studies, University of Chicago Press, 1995, pp. 23-66.

R. Buchanan, Human dignity and human rights: thoughts on the principles of human-centered design. Design issues, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2001, pp. 35-39.

R. Buchanan, Design and the new rhetoric: Productive arts in the philosophy of culture, in Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2001, pp.183-206.

R. Buchanan, Strategies of design research: Productive science and rhetorical inquiry, in R. Michel (ed.), Design research now: essays and selected projects, Birkhäuser, Boston, 2007, pp. 55-66.

R. Buchanan, Declaration by design: Rhetoric, argument, and demonstration in design practice. Design Issues, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1985, pp. 3-23.

E. Friess, Designing from data: rhetorical appeals in support of design decisions. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2010, pp. 403-444


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Legal Design Seminars – NEXT EVENT

3 May 2019 | h. 11.30-12.30

Faculté de droit et criminologie, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-neuve | MORE 66-67


The role of Legal informatics for Legal Design: the example of PRONTO

Monica Palmirani

Full Professor of Legal Informatics, University of Bologna, Italy

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Legal Design Roundtable “Dark patterns in Data Protection: Law, Nudging, Design and the Role of Technology”

April 27, 2019

Dark patterns are choice architectures used by many websites and apps to maliciously nudge users towards a decision that they would not have made if properly informed. Such deceptive that exploit individuals’ heuristics and cognitive biases (e.g. interfaces designed to hide costs until the very end of the transaction, services and products added to the consumer’s basket by default, etc.) are already well-known and sanctioned in the consumer protection domain. Regrettably, dark patterns have become widespread also in the area of data protection, where users are de facto forced to accept intrusive privacy settings, because of the way the information is framed and privacy choices presented by website’s operators. When users are tricked by design not only they can be harmed but also their trust in the digital market is likely to be affected. Dark patterns are therefore posing an additional challenge to data protection law, that needs to be addressed in an interdisciplinary way.

The Legal Design Roundtable aims to foster a constructive debate on the practice of dark patterns and to involve lawyers, academics, designers, technologists, civil rights advocates, policy makers. Legal Design is an interdisciplinary field – at the crossroad of law, design, behavioural sciences, computer science – that applies human-centred design to prevent or solve legal problem. What tools and methodology can legal design offer to address the issue of dark patterns? If we know what are the biases and heuristics used for manipulating users, can we reverse engineer dark patterns into “light” patterns?



Odisee Campus, Hermes Building, 6st floor, room 6201

Rue d’Assaut/Stormstraat 2, 1000 Brussels



14.00 – 14.30 Registration

14.30 – 14.40 Welcoming remarks 

Alain Strowel (UCLouvain, Université Saint-Louis, KULeuven, IP Munich Centre) and Rossana Ducato (UCLouvain and Université Saint-Louis)



14.40 – 15.00 Invited speeches

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS (by remote) – video and text

Antonia Fokkema, DG JUST, Directorate E for Consumers – Slides


15.00 – 16.00 Impulse talks by

Monica Palmirani, Full Professor of Legal Informatics at the University of Bologna (by remote)

Margaret Hagan, Director of the Stanford Legal Design Lab

Estelle Hary, Designer at Technology and Innovation Department, CNIL – Slides

Stefania Passera, Designer and Fellow at the University of Helsinki – Slides

Helena Haapio, Professor at the University of Vaasa

Anne-Lise Sibony, Professor at UCLouvain

Moderator: Rossana Ducato


16.00 – 16.50 Debate

Sari Depreeuw, Professor at Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles

Dariusz Kloza, Researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Arianna Rossi, Postdoc researcher at SnT, University of Luxembourg

Christoph Schmon, Senior Legal Officer at BEUC

Peggy Valcke, Professor at KULeuven

Chair: Alain Strowel


16.50 – 17.00 Concluding remarks by Rossana Ducato

17.00 – 18.00 The Light Patterns Cocktail


The Legal Design Roundtable is an event promoted within the Jean Monnet Module “European IT Law by Design”, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union.


Short Bibliography

NCC, Deceived by Design (2018)
Bösch, Christoph, et al. “Tales from the dark side: Privacy dark strategies and privacy dark patterns.” Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies 2016.4 (2016): 237-254.
Gray, Colin M., et al. “The dark (patterns) side of UX design.” Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2018.
Chromik, M., et al., “Dark Patterns of Explainability, Transparency, and User Control for Intelligent Systems.” IUI Workshops’19, March 20, 2019, Los Angeles, USA
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Download the program here.




26 April 2019 | h. 9.30-12.30

Université Saint-Louis - Brussels | Salle des Examens


Next Generation Contracts: patterns and strategies

Helena Haapio 

Associate Professor of Business Law, Vaasa University and CEO of Lexpert, Finland


Visualisation of privacy policies and consent management through icons

Arianna Rossi

Postdoc researcher at University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg


Prototyping: Running effective experiments

Stefania Passera 

Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki, Finland



27 April 2019 | h. 8.30-9.30

Université Saint-Louis - Brussels | Salle des Examens


Legal Design beyond Visualisation

Margaret Hagan

Director of the Legal Design Lab, Stanford University, USA



3 May 2019 | h. 11.30-12.30

Faculté de droit et criminologie, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-neuve | MORE 66-67


The role of Legal informatics for Legal Design: the example of PRONTO 

Monica Palmirani 

Full Professor of Legal Informatics, University of Bologna, Italy




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What is a Persona?

Spoiler alert: it’s not a philosophical question, it’s a legal design one!

The “Persona” is a fundamental element in all legal design cycles and it has been inherited from user-centred design disciplines.

In a nutshell, a persona is a realistic representation of the users for which we are developing a solution to solve the legal design problem.

The characteristics of the persona can be summarised as follows:

  • it is based on research data. The representation has to be realistic, so to capture the real needs, goals and problems of the targeted users. To this end, it is important to perform empirical research (e.g. a survey) to extract relevant information from your sample. In this sense, a persona is not a stereotype: it is not what the legal designers believe a potential user might be or want.
  • it is an abstract model, summarising the main characteristics of a sample of users that share some common patterns (e.g. age, profession, needs). So, the persona is not the profile of a real user: it doesn’t not have to correspond to a specific individual.
  • it is a dynamic and iterative tool. The construction of the persona is not a one-time exercise. All the further steps of the legal design cycle (in-depth interviews, new data and insights) can help better refine the initial statements or create new personas in a constructive loop of feedback integration.

In a legal design cycle, more than one persona can be used, depending on the amount of data collected and the needs of the project. In principle, it is preferable to work with at least 3-4 different personas, in order to have a sufficiently broad overview of the potential people that are experiencing the same problem (and for which we are developing a solution). In fact, unless we are creating a personalised solution (in which case we don’t even need a persona), the latter is going to serve several people with different needs, attitudes, level of experience. So, to have a set of personas as a point of reference during the developing process may help find a solution that “speaks” to the different souls of the potential target.


When do we create and use a persona?

The creation of the persona is usually one the first steps in a legal design project. It is an important tool in the discover phase (see here), where the legal designer is exploring the legal context of the problem, collecting data and understanding the user that is going to be served by the solution. During this phase, a fundamental goal is to empathise with the user: who is she? What are the main issues she is facing in a particular context? Why is she experiencing such obstacles? What are her goals? What are her constraints?

Therefore, the persona is usually created after the user’s research part.

Only a good understanding of the user in this phase can lead to the design of a solution that can solve the problem at stake.

Therefore, the persona can be used in the further steps of the legal design process: it is a point of reference when the legal designer fills the user’s journey map (see here), brainstorms about, ideate and prototype the possibile solutions. The persona can also be utilised for selecting the sample of real users that are going to test the prototype. However, bear in mind that the persona as such cannot be used for the validation and testing phase of the prototype. If we do not want to proceed with assumptions, the test has to be based on another round of empirical research involving real participants (on prototyping and prototype’s testing we will publish a more detailed post later on).


Why use a persona?

Using personas in a legal design project has several advantages:

  • it is cost-efficient. The legal designer can rely on empirical research to build a realistic representation of the potential user. Such a fictional model can save time and costs, and provide a starting basis.
  • it helps stay focused on the object of the challenge. It may appear trivial to say, but since legal design is a human-centred approach, it is important to recall that the “human” has to be always at the centre of the work. Especially with students running a legal design project for the first time, it can happen to deviate from the main task because of enthusiasm and desire to solve all possible problems. The persona helps keep the course steady.
  • it can solve doubts or contrasts among the group working on the legal design project. The latter is usually a work done in interdisciplinary teams. The group may have different opinions on a particular issue or found itself in a stalemate during the developing of the project. Focusing on the persona (what does she need? what does she want? what would she prefer?) can help overcome the above mentioned situations in the group’s dynamic.


How does a persona look like?

There are several ways to design a persona and there are already some good examples emerging from the practice. However, it is important to stress that the persona is a tool that is used in different fields, from design to marketing. So, the characterisation of the persona may vary and, depending on the context, some elements of it can be emphasised over others.

In legal design the goal is not to persuade the user to buy a certain product or subscribe a specific service. The ambition is rather to increase “a person’s capacity to make strategic decisions for herself. Its target is more the brain, and less the heart or the wallet. Legal design aims to build environments, interfaces and tools that support people’s smartness — and to shift the balance between the individual and the bureaucracy” (Margaret Hagan, Law by Design, 2013).

Therefore, also the persona has to reflect this goal.

Building on Margaret Hagan’s Persona Template, in the EITLab course the following model has been elaborated and it is going to be used by our students.


You can download the template here.


Persona Template by Rossana Ducato is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


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Legal Design Challenges

Today our students have discovered their legal design challenge.

Legal Design is a human-centred approach aiming at preventing or solving legal problems. So, to start from a problem is the first necessary step.

Christoph Schmon, Ph.D. in Law from the University of Vienna and Senior Legal Officer at BEUC, has helped us by elaborating 4 different concrete scenarios. Each of them will be assigned to a different team of students.


Case 1. Do you have time for a quick 33 hours read?

Case assigned to the Team “Game of Policies”



Case 2. Be dynamic!

Case assigned to the Team “Yes women”


Case 3. Watchdog restarts

Case assigned to the Team “Watchers”



Case 4. Hello, can you hear me?

Case assigned to the Team “The Amazons”


Good luck to our students!



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Conference “EU Studies in the US: Cultivating Transatlantic Understanding for 20 Years”


From the Jean Monnet Network


In cooperation with the European Commission Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture‘s celebration of thirty years of the Jean Monnet Actions under Erasmus+, the European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, the European Union Studies Association (EUSA), and partner European Union Centers across the United States invite you to celebrate twenty years of European Union support for EU studies in the U.S. From the creation of the European Union Centers of Excellence Program in 1998 to the expansion of Jean Monnet Actions around the world, EU support for the study of European integration and the European project has impacted thousands of students at scores of universities throughout the United States. Join us for the afternoon to network and learn more about the accomplishments of this program in fostering transatlantic dialogue and cooperation. 

Attendence is free, but pre-registration is required; places reserved for past or present directors of EUCEs or Jean Monnet Centers in the U.S.

Co-sponsored by the European Commission

March 14, 2019
1 – 6:30 p.m.
House of European History
Brussels, Belgium
12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. –  check-in
1:00 p.m. – Museum Tour 
2:00 – 4:30 p.m. – Formal Program
Speakers (confirmed):
Ambassador Hugo Paemen (ret.), Senior Advisor, Hogan Lovells, Brussels
Ambassador Guenter Burghardt (ret.), Senior Counsel, Mayer Brown (tentative)
Professor Alberta Sbragia, Jean Monnet Chair ad litem, University of Pittsburgh
Associate Professor Joseph Jupille, University of Colorado Boulder; Director, CEUCE
Professor Nanette Neuwahl, Université de Montréal, Canada, Executive Committe Board Member, EUSA
Mr. Stefaan Hermans, Director Policy Strategy and Evaluation, Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
Mr. Javier Niño Perez, Head of Division United States and Canada, European External Action Service
4:30 – 6:30 p.m. – Reception


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What is Machine Learning?

Florian Stevenart Meeûs will embrace the challenge to answer our basics questions on Machine Learning (ML).

What is ML, how does it work, and what are the advantages & disadvantages ?

We will see that ML is a great and powerful tool that can be widely used. Unfortunately, it presents the disadvantage of being hardly explainable. Can we trust a black box?

A perfect start for understanding what are the legal implications of machine learning.


Florian Stévenart Meeûs is a software & machine learning engineer at Macq, a company innovating in smart mobility and automation. Florian is working on a smart camera and develops deep neural networks to recognize vehicles and people. Previously, he made his Master thesis about Person Detection with Automatic Systems. He gratuated with magna cum laude from Université Catholique de Louvain.

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Data protection cases: an exercise to visualise facts and legal issues

February 15, 2019

Today, we run a little experiment in class. After an introduction to the fundamental principles and rationale of data protection legislation, EITLab students where asked to solve a case, using a canvas as a support.

The canvas was a model, which was created with the aim of supporting students in the process of identification and visualisation of the main elements emerging in their case. To list all the dots would have supported the connection of them in order to draw significant conclusion.

The legal cases that students had to solve were the following.


  1. Winter is coming

Jon, an employee of the Winterfell municipality, asks to his colleagues to sign a petition and contribute with a small donation for a charity campaign for protecting direwolves.

Jon is also a passionate blogger and after few days he publishes on his blog the name of the colleagues participating to the crowdfunding campaign and titles the post “We will fight the tyrannical regime of King’s landing! The direwolves are coming!”


2. The condominium pillory

Mary is a building administrator and she has several difficulties in contacting all the owners of the apartments and in receiving the payment of condominium taxes and fees on time.

Before proceeding with the injunction, she tries a last recourse and she hangs on the building board (the one close to the elevator) the name of the people not paying the condominium fees and the corresponding amount of the debt.


3. A ride to the hospital

Valentino had a motorcycle accident. Nothing serious, but his wrist hurts. He calls the ambulance and taken to the nearest hospital. After the triage with the nurse on duty he is accompanied to the waiting room. There are approximately 20 people waiting there for their turn. Little by little, each patient is called via the intercom:






4. Tell me what you watch and I will tell you who you are

Lara loves to watch new TV series on her favourite platform for streaming (Letflix). The platform offers to Lara several recommendations for movies on the basis of her previous activity.

One day the platform launches a global challenge and offer 1,000,000 Euros to whom will be able to optimise the recommendation algorithm. To do so, Letflix releases a database containing: 1) a code number linked to a user; 2) the list of movies watched; 3) the rating given to the movies.

Few weeks later, a team of researchers at UCLouvain discovers that with a simple algorithm is possible to single out the identity of some individuals.

Lara is worried because she has always watched TV series classified by Letflix as Gay TV shows. Her friends and family do not know she is lesbian. She does not want to come out, yet.

(based on Jane Doe v. Netflix suit)


5. Re-use of medical data for research

Dan is participating to a research project for discovering a new treatment for cancer done by the Trust Research Institute.

The Trust Research Institute informs Dan about all the details of the processing in line with the GDPR.

Dan provides all his electronic medical records and he also accept to fill a questionnaire about his behaviours (if he goes to the gym, f he goes to work by bike, what does he eat, how many time per week he drinks alchool, etc.).

After few months, the Trust Research Institute uses Dan’s data for another research project for investigating mental health problems and potential remedies.


6. A tragedy of hashtag

Gigì wants to run for the next European Parliament elections with Macron’s party.

However, in the Facebook’s profile of Alessandro, Gigì’s friend, there are a couple of pictures portraying Gigì during a «gilets jaunes» demonstration.

Gigì asks Alessandro to remove the tag revealing his identity, but Alessandro objects « My dear Gigì, my profile is private! Only few friends can see it. Your secret is safe with me! »


Students were divided in couples and had approximately 20′ to solve the case. First, they had to read the case and note their answers on the post-it individually. After that, each point was discussed by the couple to reach a common position. Each group was then called to present their own solution and the steps to arrive to their conclusion.

This was the canvas we used during the class. It was a simple model for getting students acquainted with brainstorming techniques (and the use of post-it!). You are free to re-use it or to create a more detailed matrix of analaysis.


Canvas 1. MIND MAP

Download the Canvas here


After the use of the first canvas, thanks to the interaction with students, we have also created a second canvas in the form of a flow chart, representing the legal reasoning and steps followed for de-constructing and re-constructing the case. Credits to: Xavier Darmstaedter.


Canvas 2. FLOW CHART

Download the Canvas here

How would you have solved (visually and not) the cases? Write your answer in the comment!


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Welcome to the EITLab

8 February 2019

Today, the EITLab has started!

EITLab will be one of the first courses in Europe dedicated to the study of IT Law through the lenses of legal design.

The course is a Jean Monnet Module, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the EU Commission.


Our timeline



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