Visual thinking: a game changer for modern lawyers

by | Mar 3, 2023 | Latest News

Limitless data and text – blessing or a curse?

Our world is becoming increasingly complex and technological advancements have increased exponentially the amount of information that we can consume across our personal and professional lives. While this progression has made life easier in many ways, the complexities and information overload we face today can also put tremendous pressure on people.

The impact on lawyers

For many professionals, including lawyers, it’s part of the job – they’re expected to read, research, gather, assimilate and analyze vast amounts of information all the time. Often the nature of information being exchanged between professional organizations is dense text that is unstructured, soon out of date upon publication, and often destined to be buried away in outdated or fragmented siloes.  

To take one basic example – legislation is becoming denser. In the UK alone, there are approximately 50 million words of law in force, and another 100,000 words are added every month. The problem is that there’s only so much the human brain can process at one time. The non-stop influx of data can lead to brain fog, hinder optimal decision-making, induce even more stress, and diminish clear communication with both colleagues and clients.  

Dense legal text document

Seeing is believing: the power of visualization

Where information is predominantly text-based, it can often only be accessed, consumed, processed, and analyzed manually. This can trigger fatigue and disenfranchisement for those whose roles revolve around that type of activity every day. On top of that, legal issues, situations, and structures are often highly complex and challenging to understand – legal problems within business situations tend to revolve around multiple individuals, entities, contracts and assets and how they each interrelate.

One way of resolving this issue is truly ‘seeing’ what the information is saying, rather than just ‘reading’ it. It takes a quarter of a second for our brains to process visual cues and because our brains are wired to automatically interpret relationships between objects, it allows for almost instant comprehension with minimal effort.

If information is presented orally, we remember about 10% three days later. However, if an image is included, that figure goes up to 65%, making visual content an incredibly effective and powerful medium.

Visual thinking means taking advantage of our innate ability to ‘see’ with our eye and our mind’s eye, enabling us to:

  • Discover ideas that are otherwise invisible,
  • Develop those ideas quickly and intuitively, and then;
  • Share those ideas with people in a way they truly understand.

Benefits of visualization for lawyers

  • Help them approach their processes in new and diverse ways – while words are necessary and still primary tools for every lawyer in drafting and working with contracts, legislation and regulation, visualizations are helping them see their work in a brand-new light
  • Improve communications lines – legal structures and deals have many different legal and non-legal stakeholders (investors, lenders, buyers, sellers etc.), and visualizations can help ensure everyone is on the same page
  • Paint the full picture – setting out all interconnections and dependencies clearly between multiple parties in a ‘full spectrum’ view gives a greater ability to improve precision in the drafting and designing of transactions
  • Identify and mitigate risks – likewise, it quickly identifies possible risks and analyze other issues that may not be as easily ‘seen’ through written formats
  • Help them differentiate themselves from others – visualizations can help lawyers provide clients with better clarity and understanding of complex legal information, setting themselves apart from the competition.

The future of legal visualization

Best-performing law firms and lawyers are those that have realized the positive impact that visual communication can have in the services they provide to their clients.  

In a 2018 survey, Thomson Reuters found that 92% of respondents in a survey of law firm clients said “a lawyer’s ability to discuss the case in an understandable way” was most important to them. It should be no surprise then that today’s best-performing lawyers include those that are tapping into the value of visual thinking to help clients navigate through complexity and increase understanding for all parties involved. 

For more information on why StructureFlow is the leading intelligent visual modeling solution for organizations around the world, check out our case studies or book a demo with one of our product experts today.