User Experience Matters: What Lawyers Can Learn From “Objectified”

<div class="posterous_bookmarklet_entry">
A lot of what we seem to be doing in a product like that is getting design out of the way. With that sort of reason, it feels almost inevitable, almost undesigned and it feels almost, like of course it is that way. Why would it be any other way?

What in the world does consumer product design have to do with practicing law? Quite a bit, really.

Does the design of your legal writing "get out of the way", or does it beat your reader over the head every time a passage is read?

I recently had the experience of going into a court hearing, and the Judge was receiving written briefs from multiple parties. One of the lawyers handed over a very short (couple of pages) memo. The Judge smiled, extended his hands, placing the short memo in one hand, and weighing it like a scale. Maybe the memo was too short, maybe it wasn't thorough, but the initial reaction was one of surprise and created a moment of levity.

I'm not proposing that we give our arguments or work product short shrift. But, attorney work product is just that: a product. If the client or the court or even the opponent can't make heads nor tails of it on account of impermeable language or heft then much of the time (and, by way of billable hours, money) has been wasted.

Try reading the linked and think of it in terms of a legal product rather than a consumer product. Can you say that your "users react positively when things are clear and understandable"?

I know that I reacted strongly upon hearing the comment that "It is important to remember things that are important and not important and then removing things that are vying for your attention."

Does your legal writing do that?