Ideabook Training and Info

Board Game guide for learning the law and thinking it through

Legal Design Projects - title cards - games of legal processes

Can we make navigators that are game-like, or make games that allow a person to do a prep-run of what an actual legal procedure will be like?

This concept came out of a workshop on improving immigration support. It was for a board game that a group could play together, to learn the scenarios and pathways of immigration law.

It would be a jumpoff point for questioning more about law, and thinking through how immigration rules could apply to him.


What would you spend $10 million on for Access to Justice?

Access to Justice - what would you spend 10 million dollars on

I made another visual based on a short questionnaire I ran back in November-December last year, on people’s thoughts on Access to Justice. Earlier visuals of the questionnaire responses are here (Is there a coherent Access to Justice Movement?) and here (What’s going wrong with the Access to Justice Movement?)

I asked respondents where they would spend a hypothetical $10 million on Access, to see what kind of ideas & priorities would emerge. Here are the responses.

Access to Justice - where would you spend 10 million

You can see some clear priorities emerging:

  1. Experimentation in new legal services
  2. Scaling up tech-based legal platforms to cover more jurisdictions, reach more users
  3. Providing more one-to-one assistance to people going through legal processes
  4. Public legal education
  5. Establishing a ‘Brand’ for legal services

If you have other projects that you would fund with $10 million, leave your thoughts in the comments.  There must be other agenda points, add them to this first collection of funding priorities.


Law’s PDF Problem (a short manifesto)

No Pdfs for legal information online - by Margaret Hagan - Open Law Lab-02
As I’ve ventured into the world of public legal education — helping lay people figure out and navigate their legal problems — I keep hitting my head against one thorny wall over & again.

Materials are buried in PDFs.

Excellent cartoon stories telling immigrants how to deal with the government are only available in PDFs. Know your rights explainers are presented in unsearchable PDFs. Walk-throughs of a legal process are presented in static, hundred-page long PDFs.

No Pdfs for legal information online - by Margaret Hagan - Open Law Lab-03

People do not like PDFs. They serve a very limited purpose — they keep the information frozen in the exact design that the author created, and let the author save some time up-front by merely having to upload the PDF to the web. But it puts the onus & the pain on the user.

The user has to make sure their browser can properly open & display the PDF. The user has to try to find their way through the PDF, hoping that the text is searchable, and then deal with the pain of searching through to find the information she is actually looking for. The user can’t easily clip out information to save for later, because the text will be wonky & full of bizarre characters if it’s copy-able at all.

And if the user is on mobile — which, users increasingly are — then PDFs are the worst. PDFs are not responsive, making them so difficult to look at on a mobile screen they are virtually useless.

PDFs are not user-friendly, and public-facing legal organizations should stop using them immediately. Sure, keep a PDF version up online for the *very* limited use case of a person wanting to print off a copy of the information and distribute it in its original author formatting.

But the vast majority of use cases for online legal information are people trying to get a specific clip of information that they can find easily, intake easily, and then save for future reference easily. PDFs don’t allow for any of this.

No Pdfs for legal information online - by Margaret Hagan - Open Law Lab-04

Please, legal authors & publishers of great content, unbury your content — let it free — make it usable for your target audiences. Take the text and images out of the pdf, and lay it out in a webpage with HTML.

It is not hard. It is worth the investment. It is a very quick & low-cost solution to the horrible PDF problem of public legal education. And you the legal organization will get higher Google search result placement if you liberate your text out of its frozen, buried PDF pile and onto lively, usable, searchable web pages.

To incentivize some change on this topic, I am thinking of naming names to shame groups that are serial PDF-buriers. Or giving some kind of reward badge to those organizations that actually present their information in easy-to-use formats — who take an Anti-PDF approach to sharing useful legal information. Something to get a movement away from this anti-user reliance on PDFs to communicate information.

No Pdfs for legal information online - by Margaret Hagan-01

Any thoughts on how to get change here — or other thoughts on how to better get legal information out of experts’ heads/computers/PDFs and out available to lay people?