Visual Legal Help Guides

Do you want to improve how people understand and use the justice system?

Our team at Stanford Legal Design Lab has legal visual designs that you can adapt, remix, and use to communicate better with your court and legal aid users. There are 3 kinds of legal designs that we have found to be most useful:

Notice & Official Documents

These ‘official’ documents from courts, agencies, or legal actors convey crucial information about a legal case.

These improved visual designs of notices, claims, petitions, forms, and contracts can enhance people’s willingness to engage with complicated and threatening matters. They can also increase understanding and uptake of services.

Outreach Visuals

These attract the attention of people who might not otherwise know they have a justiciable problem.

These designs can be used on posters, yard signs, social media, and fliers to help attract people’s attention to rights or services. Groups can use these to build awareness & uptake of services.

Strategic Guides

These help a person understand their options and follow a complicated process.

Usually, an advocacy org, a court self-help center, or a legal aid group distributes these visuals to their client to improve their legal knowledge & capability.

Notices & Official Legal Documents

Notices are used throughout a legal journey, to inform people of their rights & obligations. They are key to building a person’s legal capability, so they are informed, strategic, and confident while navigating the legal system.

How To Design Court Summons guide

The How To Guide for Court Summons Design

The Legal Design Lab has a detailed guide & template library for court teams looking to improve their summons.

Come visit our How-To guide in order to get these editable templates for newell-designed summons and flier documents. Also use our guide to run your own redesign process, including community input and testing sessions, and impact evaluation.

We have worked with various courts and legal aid groups to create improved notice designs. Explore these case studies of new court documents below.

Court Summons Redesign in Ohio

We worked with a group of landlords, tenants, advocates, court officials, and other stakeholders in Hamilton County, Ohio to design a new court summons for eviction.

It is in use right now, to better inform people of their rights, services, and court appearance.

You can read more about our design choices and process at our article here.

Make a version of this Summons using our Canva template here.

Court Summons Redesign in Montana

We adapted this Ohio summons for a Montana use case. They had to have different legal information and could not include images.

As such, we preserved some of the key visual choices, like having clear instruction, abundant white space, clear alignment, and strong messaging.

We also added the help sheet onto the Summons, with self-help and form information on this second handout.

Make a local version of this Summons using our Canva template.

Get Help sheet from the court

Courts often are willing to send a Help and Referral sheet along with the court and summons. This is to help the defendant understand what they can do, now that they are facing a lawsuit.

We designed this add-on sheet with our Montana partners. We have made other variations for courts across the country.

Its visual design choices include:

  • clear, uncluttered design
  • Strong messaging about urgency and steps to take
  • Laying out 3 things to do
  • Having a QR code to an online guide
  • Adding in human services contacts, for people who feel overwhelmed

Make a version of this help notice/handout using our Canva template here.

Outreach Visuals

Outreach visuals help people know about a service or tool, and increase the likelihood that they will engage with it.

Eviction Navigator website & social media

From our work with the NAACP through several policy/design lab classes, we created a suite of website and social media outreach visuals for them to use when:

  • recruiting people to become Eviction Navigators in South Carolina
  • letting vulnerable tenants know what Navigators are and how they can help

See more in our Legal Design Lab- National League of Cities toolkit on social media outreach for rental assistance & eviction prevention programs.

We also have a Social Media Outreach toolkit with links to templates you can customize and edit.

Housing, Eviction & Rent Assistance Fliers

We made a series of fliers for various local housing, eviction prevention, and rental assistance groups to help more people understand their service options & sign up for the right one.

These were also made in partnership with the NAACP, for a housing navigator program in South Carolina.

Yard Sign for Eviction Help

We made a yard sign series, to put up around the city of Greenbelt, Maryland to improve outreach for eviction and rental assistance.

The editable Canva template for this yard sign is here.

Strategic Legal Visuals

Strategic legal visuals help a person understand the legal system that they are in. These visuals can help the person understand the options they have, the process to follow, and the strategies to use to make the right decisions. They typically take the form of flowcharts, storyboards, comparison tables, and timelines.

Please find examples from the Stanford Legal Design Lab’s work in creating strategic legal visuals for people with housing, traffic, debt, and family problems.

Eviction visual guides

Process Maps & Justice Journey Visuals

Our Lab has worked with many different court & legal partners to create visual help for tenants and landlords facing eviction.

Some of these lay out processes to get help and services.

Others explain how the standard court process works.

Eviction Help Step-by-Step Journey in Michigan

A Michigan guide for a court in Lansing, designed by Margaret Hagan and Kursat Ozenc.

The above flier is a ‘Justice Journey’ guide to encourage a person to understand and participate in their eviction court case.

It was created by our Lab in collaboration with Michigan State’s RnD Law Lab, and Dan Linna’s team there, who were creating and testing new outreach strategies for the county courts. Particularly, our groups are looking at how to help divert people away from evictions, by communicating to them their options and preparation strategies after they’ve been sued by their landlord.

Eviction Process Map in Pennsylvania

A visual Justice Journey storyboard to explain the stages of an eviction court proceeding in Western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County

We made a 1-page flier for litigants and advocates for partners in the Pittsburgh area of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This visual guide lays out how the standard stages of eviction works. It’s goal is to make this complicated process clear, and to help people know ‘where they are’.

Eviction Process Map for Tenants and Landlords in Cincinnati

A process map we made for Hamilton County, Ohio

Our Lab team worked with the Hamilton County Court in Ohio to create process maps of the eviction court process — emphasizing ways to settle the case out of court or fix problems before set-out happens.

California Rental Assistance

Our Lab made this process map guide visual as part of our volunteer work with a statewide California group looking to improve Covid-era rental assistance equitable uptake.

Eviction & Rent Assistance in Milwaukee

Our Lab made these as part of our Eviction Prevention Learning Lab work with city governments across the country. We drafted these for groups in Wisconsin working on improving outreach and uptake of eviction help services.

You can customize these fliers for your local region using this Canva template.

Eviction Help menu guide

We made this template for local partners to customize. Can you lay out the main paths open to tenants at risk of eviction?

You can fork & adapt this using Canva.

Traffic Court visual guides

Strategic Flowchart & Justice Journey Storyboards

These visual guides include strategic flowcharts and step-by-step storyboards that users can use to understand what comes next, what to do, and what options they have.

These visuals give people a birds-eye view of what to do when appearing before a traffic court — and how to request relief from fines and fees.

The Legal Design Lab team created these open-source designs in our class Design For Justice: Traffic Court, with our partners East Bay Community Law Center and NLADA. The visual designs for posters and handouts have been piloted in Alameda County, California. They were particularly created for courts that have recently introduced ‘Ability to Pay’ procedures.

If you would like to adapt these to your court or clinic, to help litigants understand their pleading options and how to request an ‘Ability to Pay’ evaluation, please write to us.

We will be happy to help you adapt these flowcharts and visuals to your context.

Our team designed this Strategic Flowchart as part of a traffic court redesign class taught in partnership with the Judicial Council of California.
This image goes along with the first flowchart. This is a Journey Storyboard, of how a litigant can follow the correct steps to get the outcome they want: getting a waiver of traffic court fees.

Debt Collection visual guides

Our team has been creating posters and app guides to represent options for people who have been sued for debt in state courts.

These are flowcharts, mixed also with comparison tables of options so a person can weigh their options.

This ‘justice journey’ visual shows the typical pathway a litigant would need to follow to resolve a court case over an unpaid debt. This would be put on the wall or handed out as a flier for litigants.
This ‘placemat’ visual could be used in advocate-client discussions or at pro bono clinics. It can help a person weigh options, to see pathways laid out.

Guardianship strategic guides

Strategic Justice Journey Storyboards

Our Lab team worked on improved self-help for Californians working on getting guardianship of kids in their life. This could be due to the birth parent being in military service, having addiction issues, or being incarcerated.