Jusletter IT

A Visual Approach to Commercial Contracts

  • Author: Helena Haapio
  • Category: Short Articles
  • Region: Finland
  • Field of law: Legal Visualisation
  • Collection: Conference proceedings IRIS 2011
  • Citation: Helena Haapio, A Visual Approach to Commercial Contracts, in: Jusletter IT 24 February 2011
In the crafting of commercial contracts, many participants are involved, often business managers and lawyers from several countries and cultural and professional backgrounds. The challenge, then, is to achieve a balance between the different business and legal requirements and to facilitate communication and coordination. While some contracts may need to work as evidence in court, most contracts don’t. Commercial contracts are not made primarily for legal purposes; they are made for the parties so they get the results they want to accomplish. Once the contract is made, people in the field need to know what they are expected to do and refrain from doing. A visual approach has tremendous potential in improving the understandability and usability of contracts and in facilitating cross-professional communication from lawyers to management and delivery teams – and vice versa. The ability to visualise contracts and draw a map of the legal landscape can assist both lawyers and clients to make better decisions and engage in co-learning and collaboration required for today’s contracting success.


  • 1. Seeing Contracts Differently
  • 1.1. Are We As Good Communicators As We Think?
  • 1.2. Why Do Companies Make Contracts? Are Our Contracts Fit for Purpose?
  • 1.3. Are Our Contracts Easy to Understand and to Use?
  • 2. Towards Contracts that Work – How Might Visualisation Help?
  • 2.1. The Contract Puzzle
  • 3. A Visual Approach to Contracts and Legal Rules: Early Experiments
  • 3.1. Making the Invisible Visible – Visualising Contractual and Legal Information
  • 3.2. Examples of Visualising Contracts and Legal Rules
  • 4. Conclusions
  • 5. References

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