Diagrammatics and the Proactive Visualization of Legal Information

46 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2020 Last revised: 3 Aug 2020

See all articles by Michael D. Murray

Michael D. Murray

University of Kentucky, J. David Rosenberg College of Law

Date Written: August 2, 2020


The visualization movement in Proactive Law seeks to transform legal communications to improve access to law for disadvantaged, illiterate, and less-than-fully literate persons, and to improve the understanding of legal relationships and agreements for all persons through illustration, simplification, engagement, and inclusiveness in the text and visual components of the communication. Guided by principles of visual legal rhetoric and visual literacy and with the goal of transparency, Proactive Law and Legal Design seeks to build knowledge and understanding in all audiences of legal communications. The goal with regard to contractual relationships and agreements is to better carry out the present will and intentions of the parties and to anticipate their future needs through legal instruments that secure a clearer understanding of terms of the relationship.

This article focuses on one mode of visual legal communication: diagrammatics and the visualization of legal data. By legal data, I mean facts, processes, procedures, timelines and time periods, statistics, mathematical calculations, accounting, formulas, the quantitative and qualitative analysis of research, interviews, polls, surveys, and other scientific information. The lens will be applied to evaluate and critique five aspects of proactive visual legal instruments:

• Immediate Visual Context,
• Immediate Verbal Context,
• Visual Cultural Context,
• Mise en Scène and Arrangement, and
• Visual Rhetoric, Ethics and Professionalism

My primary motivation for the visual legal rhetoric scholarship I have researched and published is to inform and educate lawyers, judges, law students, and law professors about the need to become more visually literate in this contemporary visual, digital world of law practice, and then further to explain and demonstrate that visual literacy requires not only the ability to read and comprehend visual works, but also the skill to design works and critically analyze the meaning and implications of works offered by others. That is why in my works I use the same steps of analysis I have developed to examine not only the visual elements of works (visual context and mise en scène design) but also the verbal context of multimodal works (text plus visuals), and the visual cultural context (the ability of works to be understood across language and cultural barriers).

Keywords: visual rhetoric, visual legal rhetoric, diagrammatics, visual literacy, multimodal, multimodality, proactive, Proactive Law, visualization, Legal Design, visual context, verbal context, visual cultural context, visual commons, mise en scène

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K3, K30, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Murray, Michael D., Diagrammatics and the Proactive Visualization of Legal Information (August 2, 2020). University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3533412 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3533412

Michael D. Murray (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky, J. David Rosenberg College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States
219-299-9777 (Phone)
859-323-1061 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.uky.edu/people/michael-murray

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