Michael Murray, ‘Cartoon Contracts and the Proactive Visualization of Law’

ABSTRACT
The goal of this Article is to apply the lens of visual legal rhetoric to the current movement known as the proactive visualization of law in its efforts to promote visual, non-verbal communication in contracts through cartoon, comic book, and highly pictorial legal instruments. The lens will be applied to evaluate and critique four aspects of proactive visual legal instruments: immediate visual context, immediate verbal context, visual cultural context, and rhetorical arrangement and mise en scène. This Article will analyze whether highly visual contracts and legal instruments fulfill the potential for greater access to and understanding of contract terms particularly with regard to audiences whose language skills and cultural experience might make the comprehension and acceptance of purely verbal contracts more difficult. Although legal communication in general and contracts in particular have been dominated by text for centuries, the contemporary study of visual communication in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, data visualization and rhetorical topics of arrangement, and contemporary visual legal rhetoric demands attention to the proactive approach to law and its call for increased visualization in legal communication. When visuals can overcome barriers in communication that words alone cannot, contracts and other legal instruments can be made more universal in their application, interpretation, performance, and enforcement.

Murray, Michael D, Cartoon Contracts and the Proactive Visualization of Law (December 11, 2019).

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