It might be inexcusable, but ignorance of the law is the norm

There are more laws in the world than any one person could ever hope to read, much less memorize. Meanwhile, legislators, administrative bodies, and regulatory committees pass more and more laws each year. And yet. Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat (ignorance is no excuse for violating the law).

How can we communicate the law more effectively to each other?

  • Use of technical writing principles. For instance, better organization, and less passive voice. One of the worst laws I’ve ever read is Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. It’s composed almost entirely in passive voice, and important statutory provisions are scattered throughout the code. Worse, if you’re writing about the CWA, and you try to use active voice, you risk altering a term of art.
  • Visual organization. Most laws — and most lawyers — could benefit from learning about legal design. Margaret Hagan is at the forefront of the legal design movement, which involves integrating design, technology and law.See . See also, Legal Design Initiative.
  • Others. What other ideas spring to mind when you think about making the law more accessible and easier to use?
An example of an organized, visual guide to the law (created by the author).