Words: J. Kim Wright and Elaine Quinn (May 2017)
Image Credits: Open Source
Reading Time: 6 minutes

J KIM WRIGHT, AUTHOR OF TWO AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION BEST SELLERS: ‘Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law‘ and ‘Lawyers as Changemakers, The Global Integrative Law Movement‘ and self-professed American nomad has her finger to the pulse when it comes to positive developments in integrative and conscious approaches in law. Here she highlights exciting developments in the field of art and law. These developments, while springing up independently in locations around the world, share many common intentions. Whether encouraging holistic thinking; bringing more human-centred approaches; raising awareness among broader categories of people; broadening, opening and improving understanding; or creating more improved solutions these developments offer fascinating expanded perspectives in many fields of law practice and law teaching. 

Lisa Arora, Visual Divorce Mediation, Canada

In Canada, Family Mediator Lisa Arora says of her Visual Divorce Mediation practice: “Visual Mediation is the practice of capturing your ideas and expressions––in text, images, and colours on large sheets of paper––as they’re being spoken, in the moment, during mediation. It can also involve the use of visual templates and other visual tools to guide conversations and explain information about the mediation process. This adds a useful and dynamic dimension to facilitative mediation. It supports effective communication, ensures shared understanding and involves both parties more fully in playing an active role. I blend visual communication techniques, like graphics, with insightful mediation skills to provide a unique and effective service. Learn more about visual mediation.” Read more about Visual Divorce Mediation.

Susanne van Der Meer, Legal Visuals, Holland

In Holland, Susanne van der Meer, lawyer and founder of Dutch company Legal Visuals has been pioneering visual language for lawyers for fifteen years. Legal Visuals has taught hundreds of lawyers how to think and communicate more visually and has been an international innovator in legal information design and visual contracts. Legal Visuals conducts training for the Dutch Academy for Legislation and Government Lawyers. Susanne recently wrote: “Visual law seems to have caught worldwide attention and support from a wider audience of lawyers.   Recently we have noticed a tipping point: Lawyers are no longer on the fence, but are ready and eager to develop their own visual communication literacy. Lawyers, each in their specific role and work environment, are looking for practical visual tools that strike the balance between accuracy and user-friendliness.” Read more about Legal Visuals.

Wikke Monster and Klaartje Freeke, Holland

Also in Holland, lawyers and mediators Wikke Monster and Klaartje Freeke have started a joint project with two artists from De Beeldvormers (Imagers in English) with the goal to build and make visible what criminal justice should look like in an ideal world. Read more about Freeke & Monster (Dutch website).

Kanan Dhru and Kelly Dhru, Lawtoons, India

In India, Lawtoons is a venture by lawyer sisters Kanan and Kelly Dhru, of The Research Foundation for Governance in India. The Dhrus were winners of the HiiL Innovative Justice award and of Lawtoons they say: “The concept of Lawtoons is simple: to create interesting cartoons on laws for kids. Through storytelling and cartoons, we set ourselves on a journey to discover how laws affect us. With the potential to reach out to a large audience to create awareness about laws and rights, the Lawtoons expedition is about to embark!” Read more about Lawtoons.

Robert de Rooy, Comic Contracts, South Africa

In South Africa, lawyer Robert de Rooy has created a new form of contract that uses the format of illustrated pictures to lay out the terms for each of the parties. He says: “We produce illustrated contracts for people who are illiterate, people who are not literate in the language of the contract, employers with multi-cultural workplaces or companies that wish to transact with people who suffer from reading or intellectual disabilities. We want to enable people to be able to independently understand the contracts they are expected to sign.” Robert will be one of the speakers at the inaugural Comic Book and Creative Contract Conference to be held in Perth, Australia on 7-8 December 2017. Read more on the Lawyers as Changemakers website.

Marietjie Botes, Comics for informed consent, South Africa

Also in South Africa, Marietje Botes has been working with comics for informed consent from the San (people) in genomic research projects. She won first prize at the 2014 UNISA Research and Innovation Showcase based on her pre-empirical research hypothesis, which forms part of her LLD thesis. She says: “The research is to establish how the San’s cultural beliefs impact on their ability or willingness to consent to something like genomic/genetic research and how this process can be aided by the use of the said comic, especially in cases where people are illiterate and unsophisticated. In essence, it all boils down to respect and empowerment, which actually is integrative law in practice!!” Read more about Marietjie’s work here.

Isabel Añino Granados, Social Sculpture and ‘Conversations with the Planet’

Based in Spain, lawyer, artist and social sculpture practitioner, Isabel Añino Granados has developed an artistic process called ‘Conversations with the Planet’ following an MA in Social Sculpture at Oxford Brookes University in the UK in 2015. Through this process Isabel confronts the natural order to the legal system by means of a sensorial observation. You can read more from Isabel about social sculpture (“an expanded concept of art, which speaks to the universal creative capacity that manifests itself in every single field of human activity”) and the meaning of her work and project in her article here. Read more about Isabel’s other projects – Warm Law and Parakletos.

Alex Carrascosa, Asociación de Derecho Colaborativo de Euskadi (Basque Association of Collaborative Practice), Spain

Also in Spain, design thinking is being taught alongside typical legal topics. Mediators, collaborative lawyers, and conscious contracts wizards are being taught to create three-dimensional prototypes and, as a result to think more holistically. Read more about the Basque Association of Collaborative Practice (Spanish website).

Dr. Colette R. Brunschwig, Multi-sensory law, Switzerland

In Switzerland, Dr Colette R. Brunschwig based at the University of Zurich Centre for Legal History, Legal Visualization Unit is considered the Mother of Multisensory Law. Her research focuses on legal history, legal iconography, legal iconology, legal informatics, legal pedagogy, legal psychology, and multisensory law (especially visual law, audiovisual law, and tactile-kinesthetic law). Read more about Colette’s work here.

Dr. Thomas Giddens, Graphic Justice, UK

In the UK, Dr Thomas Giddens, Lecturer in Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Law and Culture at St Mary’s University, researches in cultural legal studies, focusing on the use of comics and graphic fiction in legal studies, as well as criminal justice and legal philosophy. He is the author of a book, Graphic Justice: Intersections of Comics and Law. He says: “Graphic Justice broadens our understanding of law and justice as part of our human world―a world that is inhabited not simply by legal concepts and institutions alone, but also by narratives, stories, fantasies, images, and other cultural articulations of human meaning.” Read more about Graphic Justice.

Dr. Lucy Finchett-Maddock, Art/Law Network, UK

Also in the UK, Dr Lucy Finchett is founder of the the Art/Law Network is a gathering of artists, lawyers, agitators, coming together to work and collaborate for change. She says: “The network is a platform where artists can be in contact and collaborate with practitioners working within the law, the legal system, legal teaching and research. Similarly, the network provides a space where lawyers, activists, academics, thinkers of all creeds, can learn new open forms of law and legal thinking through bringing art into law.” Read more about the Art/Law Network.

Wela Quan, NY Bar Picture Book, USA

Corporate lawyer, Wela Quan, has written the ultimate study guide for visual learners taking the New York Bar Exam. Read more about the NY Picture Book.

Margaret Hagan, Legal Design Lab, USA

Margaret Hagan, lawyer and designer, currently based at Stanford University is the Director of the Legal Design Lab, hosted at Stanford Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession and a lecturer at the Stanford d.school. Margaret’s work focuses on “bringing design into the world of law, to create a new generation of accessible, engaging legal services. I work on several types of design — communication design, product design, and organization design, to push for more experimentation in the legal sector & a human-centered approach.”  Read more about Margaret Hagan’s work.

Alix Devandra, Portland, Oregon, USA

Alix Devandra is a Design Strategist. After practicing at a large firm, Alix decided that there must be a better way to deliver legal advice. She saw room for improvement everywhere—from the formatting of briefs to the tradition of billing by the hour. She left law practice to focus on teaching lawyers how to leverage design principles to communicate more effectively. Read more about Alix’s work here.

J. KIM WRIGHT is a pioneering leader of the Integrative Law Movement. She is the author of two American Bar Association best sellers: ‘Lawyers as Peacemakers, Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law‘ and ‘Lawyers as Changemakers, The Global Integrative Law Movement‘ For more about Kim, see www.jkimwright.com or www.cuttingedgelaw.com.


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