July 29, 2011
Something New in the Academic Law Journal Genre: UDC-DCSL's Illustrated Law Journal
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law has launched the Illustrated Law Journal (ILJ) project "to use web technology and Free Culture licenses to generate meaningful visual illustrations of laws and legal concepts... ." Among the project's goals are to provide the basis of a new-media legal authority on illustrations of laws and legal concepts and to help develop a visual jurisprudence.
ILJ's mission is inspired by the work of Richard K. Sherwin, director of the Visual Persuasion Project at the New York Law School. Quoting from ILJ's About page:
[Sherwin] has made several observations of value to the ILJ’s mission. Among these are the following:
“Legal education must adapt to the contingencies of technology and the emerging vernacular of digital culture and the digital mind.”Richard K. Sherwin, Law In The Digital Age: How Visual Communication Technologies Are Transforming The Practice, Theory, And Teaching Of Law, 12 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. 227, 259-60 (2006).
“Responses to pictures are not arguable in the same way that responses to legal texts are. Absent an extensive tradition of cultural interpretation and without readings that have been applied over time, there can be no appeal to more authoritative texts or to any consensus of scholars.”Richard K. Sherwin, Law In The Digital Age: How Visual Communication Technologies Are Transforming The Practice, Theory, And Teaching Of Law, 12 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. 227, 263 (2006).
From ILJ's goals statement:
Generating a Critical Authority. In order to counteract the limitation Prof. Sherwin notes in the lack of an authoritative text or consensus of scholars with regard to the interpretation of visual materials illustrating legal concepts, the Illustrated Law Journal aims to generate the kind of critical discussion that will provide the basis of a new-media legal authority on illustrations of laws and legal concepts.
Developing Visual Jurisprudence. Perhaps the loftiest goal of this project is that it will generate an illustrative jurisprudence: one day judges and legislators will pause to think before they create legal authority “how would I draw this law?”, and if it seems as though the law can’t be drawn, perhaps another approach to the problem would be more appropriate.