Putting Some Product into Work-Product: Corporate Lawyers Learning from Designers

44 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2013 Last revised: 23 Sep 2013

Date Written: September 22, 2013

Abstract

Clients hire corporate lawyers to make useful things for them. Those things are documents, such as contracts and corporate bylaws. Lawyers have some good tools for making these products; standard forms and precedents from prior engagements are prime examples. But corporate lawyers don’t seem to use other tools whose employment might contribute to the utility and value of the product for the client. Those tools, used by designers, include a stance toward the work focused on the reader and actual user experience, and an attention to typography, to facilitating communicative effectiveness through careful attention to the presentation of text. This paper reflects some work by corporate lawyers trying to learn from designers, their work-products, and their literature, in creating legal documents for clients. The materials considered here are governance documents for nonprofit corporations. The paper notes several themes emerging from the literature study, explains why governance materials are a good vehicle for this work, characterizes typical executions of those materials, describes in detail and provides examples of the documents we developed, and makes a few observations about continuing work in the area. The work here is early-stage. As designers might say, we’re doing ideation and prototyping. But we do think the work is suggestive of how even modest awareness of design considerations can make our work-products better products for our clients.

Keywords: design, document design, information design, graphic design, legal documents, typography, legal drafting, contract drafting, corporate governance, nonprofit governance, legal writing, legal clinics, document innovation, contract innovation

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Jay A., Putting Some Product into Work-Product: Corporate Lawyers Learning from Designers (September 22, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2325683 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2325683

Jay A. Mitchell (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-724-0014 (Phone)
650-723-4426 (Fax)

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