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Visualization: Seeing Contracts for What They Are, and What They Could Become
Faculty Scholarship
  • Thomas Barton, California Western School of Law
  • Gerlinde Berger-Walliser, University of Connecticut - Storrs
  • Helena Haapio, University of Vaasa
Document Type
Publication Date
Commercial contract users read their contract documents infrequently, and understand them inadequately. The disincentives may be several: contract language may be too technical and too long; contracts may be organized around ensuring or avoiding legal liability rather than providing guidance toward performing contractual responsibilities; or contracts may rarely include frameworks that would prompt the parties to explore new opportunities. For whatever reason, the neglect by users of contractual documents can lead not only to unpleasant surprises in the performance or enforcement of particular contractual duties, but also to chronic underuse of contracts as potential instruments for planning, innovation, commercial relationship-building and optimal business results. Visualization techniques-i.e., adding graphic images to supplement written words-could invigorate the effectiveness of contract documents and processes. Greater understanding and use of contract materials could reduce transaction costs, prevent disputes, and help to achieve business goals. This paper explores the possibilities for using visualization techniques within and about contracts, and invites others in the legal and commercial contracts community to join collectively in that effort.
Citation Information
Thomas D. Barton, Gerlinde Berger-Walliser & Helena Haapio, Visualization: Seeing Contracts for What They Are, and What They Could Become, 19 JOURNAL OF LAW, BUSINESS & ETHICS 47 (2013).