Legal Design: Concepts, methods, norms and examples

11–12 June 2020, City, University of London

This event is organised by Amanda Perry-Kessaris, Kent Law School, and Emily Allbon, City, University of London, under the auspices of the SLSA Seminar Competition with an award of £1527 and co-sponsored by the Centre for Law and Society (Cardiff), the Journal of Law and Society, Kent Law School and City Law School.

This two-day workshop will for the first time highlight the diversity of possible and actual legal design across legal practice, activism, policy-making, teaching and research; by drawing together practitioners and academics from architecture, art, design, innovation and law.

Legal design is a nascent field of thinking and practice, the contours and content of which are emergent and contested. At its core is an interest in what design can do for law.

Being a designer involves using, changing and creating artefacts, images, sounds, experiences and systems. It is best understood as a practice – a combination of mindsets, tools and processes, all shaped by distinctly ‘designerly’ skills, knowledge and attitudes. Among these designerly ways are a commitment to communication, an emphasis on experimentation, and an ability to make things visible and tangible.

Being a lawyer involves using, changing and creating legal ideas. At the heart of lawyering lies a tension between, on the one hand, protecting the structural coherence or unity of law and, on the other hand, ensuring that law accommodates and actively nurtures diversity or freedom. In navigating this tension, lawyers must be at once practical, critical and imaginative.

Across the world, evidence is emerging in support of the proposition that designerly ways can not only directly improve legal communications; but also generate new ‘structured-yet-free’ spaces that facilitate this lawyerly need to be simultaneously practical, critical and imaginative.

Confirmed contributors

Call for abstracts

We welcome abstracts that critically explore legal design, including but not limited to the themes raised in the above rational. Please submit your title and abstract (500 words maximum) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 17:00 on 14 February 2020

A digital special issue of papers emerging from the event will (subject to standard peer review and approval processes) be published by the Journal of Law and Society.


Spaces will be available for non-speakers to attend this event, including a small number of free places for students. Registration details will be announced in the Spring of 2020.

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