The Illustrated Law Journal

This is a summary of a project I discussed at the 2011 Students for Free Culture Unconference. I’d like to thank SFC for putting the conference together, and for inviting me to publish this post on their blog.

Venn: Law + People = Justice

No society that kept its laws secret could ever be called free. No government that hid its regulations from the regulated could ever stand in our tradition. Law controls. But it does so justly only when visibly. And law is visible only when its terms are knowable and controllable by those it regulates. . . .
-Lawrence Lessig, Introduction to Richard Stallman’s Free Software, Free Society.

More must be done to increase the availability, and the visibility, of justice.

Whatever more is, I decided to be one of the people doing it. That decision is behind both my application to the David A. Clarke School of Law (DCSL) and my insistence on the creation of an Illustrated Law Journal (ILJ) while there. My passion for the idea of collecting, editing, and publishing visual illustrations of laws and legal concepts stems from the beliefs articulated in the following stanza from DCSL founders Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn’s Credo, This I Believe, that informs DCSL’s mission.

And I believe the day will come when the monopoly
      over law and legal knowledge -- the lawyers' monopoly
      the law schools' monopoly -- will be broken
When men and women and yes, even children will know that which
      is expected of them and that which they can expect of others:
            to refrain from harm
            to honor their word
            to respect the dreams of others and the right of others
                 to dream in their own way
	                                         This I believe

The opportunity to know what is expected of you, and what you should expect of others should not require a law degree. We can make the text of laws more freely available to people distributionally, but until those laws are also available conceptually, there’s room for injustice in impenetrably worded, opaque laws.

What is it?

A periodic online and print journal – each issue covering a single legal topic – that will help jurists understand their work, and interested laypeople understand the laws that affect them.

What sorts of things will go in?

It could be anything that clearly illustrates a law or legal concept. Some of the things I expect we’ll publish are venn diagrams, flow charts, cartoons, and street sign type images.

What does the Journal Need? (non-exhaustive)

  • A website where the editorial process can take place.
  • Illustrations and ideas for illustrations of laws and legal concepts.
  • While we do have several ideas for topic areas, we’d love to have more, especially from non-jurists

Where can I learn more and contribute?

The ILJ has a google group here, documents here and an Identi.ca group at !ILJ.