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November Edition 2020

Visual Contracts - Making Legal Content Understandable

Visual Contracts - Making Legal Content Understandable

Legal Contents have been one of the most complicated things for people all around the world. This is the field where you hire professional lawyers to help you with any legal issues, even if you are a well-learned professional. Most ordinary people just do not get the insights of any legal content that comes their way. Aiming to solve this problem, Visual Contracts has an ambitious aim of legally empowering 10 million people with understandable and user-friendly contracts, regardless of background or literacy level, by 2030.

Visual Contracts was founded in 2017 by service and UX designer Lieke Beelen who has been working on legal innovation since 2015 after winning The Hague Innovators prize. Together with a lawyer, they developed a new concept of Facebook's privacy statement as a case study to explore new ways of creating accessible, understanding, and engaging legal documents. This was how Lieke rolled into the field of Legal Design Thinking and Visual Contracts. Since then, Visual Contracts grew to become a team of excellent social justice warriors that works towards equal opportunities for all, each from their core strength.

Visual Contracts' Vision

Visual Contracts strives for an equal and just world. By creating proactive visual contracts, they are building a catalyst for a more human-friendly and a just system. Their visual contract and co-creation approach helps build confidence in dealing with legal topics and supports in making autonomous decisions.

Their simple aim is to make the legal system accessible to everyone, regardless of background, disability, or education level, so that people are legally empowered and become active citizens; citizens who know their rights and obligations and act pro-actively towards this.

Visual Contracts' Mission

Visual Contracts has a very ambitious team that is empowering 10 million people with understandable and user-friendly contracts, regardless of background or literacy level, by 2030. It aims to create future lawyers that can help create a human-centered just system. 200 Universities have already adopted their Legal Design Thinking approach and visual contract creation tool for user-centered legal services and disruption of the legal sector. It has also created 250 internships for people without a degree/education/access to opportunities. It is aimed at everyone, no matter which field you belong to. However, depending on your background, you can find the relevant content for you.

  • Employee/citizen: It will make you understand legal documents and help you make autonomous decisions to enhance your personal legal empowerment
  • Business owner: Business owners will get the skill of building sustainable relationships and creating a strategic advantage with clearer and more user-friendly legal communication
  • Legal Counsel: It will help Legal Counselors in bringing legal expertise and advice in an accessible way and make it easier to integrate legalities earlier in the process
  • Legal Design Thinker: The Visual Contracts program will help the legal field create a mindset change and implement visual legal documents.

Understanding the Proactive Visual Contracts Program

A proactive visual contract is a contract that is user friendly (people actually understand them) and which people can use to build sustainable relationships and prevent conflicts. They are created with a method called 'Legal Design Thinking' that uses UX design, information design, visual thinking, plain legal language, and pro-active law. A survey conducted by IACCM reveals that only 1 out of 10 people find contracts easy to understand. This is mainly due to the fact that language and medium that is used and the perception of law that people have.

Visual Contracts is a platform and ecosystem of legal innovators, multidisciplinary teams, and tools to create proactive visual contracts that are tested with the end-user to reach the much-needed change. The platform provides the tools, process, and mindset change to create such understandable and proactive visual contracts.

The ecosystem is structured by four pillars that work together. Visual Contracts helps legal educators to innovate their curricula, train lawyers and designers, and other professionals into a mindset that is necessary to create visual contracts and a community to share knowledge and skills. The builder helps them scale their impact and accessibility of the services they offer to different target groups outside the corporate world. The studio is there to keep exploring new grounds in Legal Design Thinking, technologies, and social justice impact measurement.

“We strive for an equal and just world.”

VC Studio

Visual Contracts offers services to set up and deliver custom Legal Design projects, from personalized training to interactive templates of legal documents. It lets you design legal documents, contracts, and (training) materials to explain laws and regulations in co-creation.

It has innovation projects focused on mindset shift, such as making your department ready for the adoption of legal design and legal tech or integrating a more customer-centric mindset. It also helps in developing new offerings, products, and services ( like reorganizing your legal services internally or as your core business). You can increase the legal awareness and knowledge of your employees with understandable and engaging legal games and workshops or hire them for a keynote presentation.

VC Academy

At the Visual Contracts Academy, you can learn everything about creating proactive visual contracts and legal design thinking, regardless of your skill level. They offer three formats of Legal Design Thinking training: Individual training, Group training, and in-house group training. Besides that, they also offer materials on their platform to get you started with the basics of legal design thinking and creating visual contracts.

VC Academy materials are divided into three types: Study, Explore, and Use. Under 'STUDY,' you can find all sorts of articles and material that you can read or watch, such as case studies, books, articles, and videos. Under 'CREATE,' you can find all sorts of exercises and things to do. Last but not least, under 'EXPLORE,' you can find frameworks and templates that you can use to get started.

VC Community

In order to create a meaningful change in Access to Justice and innovating the legal sector still, a lot has to be done. The key to this change is to collaborate with all sorts of people from different backgrounds. VC Community entertains all lawyers, designers, developers, business developers, academics, data analysts, consumers, citizens, employees from all backgrounds. VC Community is there to help them connect and share knowledge in order to increase the movement of Legal Design Thinking and Visual Contracts.

To drive innovation in the legal field, it is invaluable to involve a diverse group of people who bring in new perspectives, ideas, and the user perspective of interacting with the law. Although more and more legal tech is being developed and legal design thinking is on the rise, Visual Contracts believes that there is still a lot to be done in order to create a real systemic change in order to make the justice system accessible to everyone.

Sharing knowledge and creating a mindset and culture shift is one of the key drivers for change. Design thinking and technology can help pick up the ideas that elicit from new crossover collaborations and make them concrete to implement the change to make it sustainable and scalable. Regardless of discipline, expertise, age, level of education, and other potential different factor, people can join VC Community and share their experience and knowledge with legal design thinking, professional expertise, and personal experience with the law and connect to like-minded people.

Visual Contracts' Unique Selling Point

Visual Contracts' unique selling point is their design/tech background and expertise in collaboration with lawyers. Most of their Legal designers come from a legal background and then start learning to design. They are actively breaking the legal field patterns and just applying the right amount of law, design, and tech for every case.

About the Founder

Lieke Beelen is the founder of Visual Contracts. As a founder of the legal design thinking platform Visual Contracts and as a freelance UX designer/researcher/visual thinker, she strives to improve the quality of life and create a social impact. She is also a freelance designer and focuses on supporting startups and companies in developing new innovative services that create impact.

She likes to set the first steps in product/service development by prototyping new innovative concepts and testing them with customers and/or end-users. She likes to visualize and prototype tangible ideas coming from different people.

"We are expert Legal Design Thinkers who focus on creating visual contracts. We offer custom Legal Design and train professionals to become Legal Design Thinkers themselves."

“By creating proactive visual contracts we build a catalyst for a more human friendly just system.”

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