On 15 and 16 November, the Rotterdamse Erasmus School of Law organized an event on the role of visualizations in the legal system. Researchers, legal professionals, practitioners, and companies discussed how visuals work in the legal system, how they affect the people involved. For starters, the visuals by live cartoonist Michiel van de Pol gained broad approval.
New technologies have led to an increase in visuals in the legal system. Different types of visuals are created by various public and private actors, including NGOs, governmental institutions and companies. Drawings and interactive infographics can be used in different stages in the civil or criminal justice system to enhance comprehension and understanding. However, visuals can also lead to biases and visuals can have unintended and unwanted consequences. The technologies to create, share and present visualizations create opportunities for business, artists and (legal) designers. Legal visualization, legal design and visual legal communication also necessitate the transformation of law schools and law firms.
Visuals are powerful. The possible effects of incriminating, powerful visuals require a fair balance in the access and use of visualizations. Visualizations of accidents, crime and injuries can be gruesome. Gruesome and graphic visualizations evoke strong emotional reactions, can result in more severe moral judgments, and increase conviction rates. Visualizations of data and information can lead to better understanding and comprehension and can help to remember things that have happened. They can enable justice, access to justice and to legal information. Visualizations can help children, less literate or (functionally) illiterate people, non-native speakers and people with a cognitive disability to understand legal rights, legal processes and outcomes.