Legal agreements put off clients because they are dense, inter-connected, and one dimensional, in the sense that they are dense, linear text. Were there tools to show the provisions of an agreement visually, both clients and lawyers would gain. This blog has foreshadowed this idea but never explicitly proposed the solution: concept-depiction software (See my post of Nov. 28, 2005: mind mapping software; Feb. 23, 2006: argument diagramming; and May 10, 2006: influence diagrams; Feb. 16, 2008: flow chart a complex process; March 7, 2006: TQM tools such as cause-and-effect diagrams; Jan. 6, 2009: visual presentation of ideas; May 15, 2009: idea relationship software with 6 references; Feb. 8, 2011: digraphs to show tasks, time, and dependencies; Jan. 19, 2012: Transparency Labs and contract illustration.).
If key parts of an agreement were transformed into circles of various sizes according to their importance, for instance, and perhaps colored to show whether they concern potential liability or potential benefit, and lines linked the term circles to defined terms or related provisions, everyone could fathom complex agreements better.
Text lags behind diagrams when it comes to depicting causal relations. What influences what and how that is related to something else can be described in words, thousands of words sometimes, but a picture does it instantly. Venn diagrams, decision trees, data visualization, and patent landscapes also give a visual sense of concepts. The tools of visual presentation are poorly used in law departments.