History of amendments

July, 2019

I was approached to re-imagine how the history of amendments made under the US Bankruptcy Code could be shown. The client is a lawyer specializing in student loan debt.


Problem being solved: The history of amendments made under the US Bankruptcy Code from 1970’s to present time exists as a wall of text with heavy jargon. It is very challenging to communicate all the amendments made in a simple and easy form of communication.

Target audience: There are two target segments. The first would be judges, the client needed a simple way to communicate the amendments when presenting their client’s case. The second case is their peers, lawyers who are interested in learning more about the history of amendments.

Key objective: Break down the amendments into plain language and organize the information into manageable chunks through better communication design.

Student loans in America, table of contents

Higher Education Act Section 439A (1976)

Total Federal and Nonfederal Loans in America

National Average Published Tuition and Fees


Amendments made since 1970, deck

The client summarized the amendments made since 1970’s in a presentation deck. They sent me this so I could familiarize with the topic. The image above is a snapshot of some of the slides in the deck.

Early sketch of timeline

A sketch early in the process where I drew a timeline. Drawing this out helped me better process the information regarding the amendments.

Sketching ideas

On the bottom left of this sketch, I started drawing large rectangles, each one representing one amendment. This is very similar to the first page in the presentation deck the client share with me. It’s a quick overview of the amendments.

Timeline sketch

I put two key ideas from my sketches together. A timeline and a series of boxes that represent each amendment. After some brainstorming, I further developed the idea of the boxes into a card. Each card represents an amendment. The card also has a timeline to show context.

First iteration of the cards

This is the first iteration of the cards. To keep the process simple, I always start off designing in black and white. This speeds up the testing phase as I bounce ideas off the client. For the cards, I thought it would be a good idea to have front side of the card summarizing the amendment in simple terms. The back of the card has the actual amendment for reference.

Cards were chosen as the ideal format because it allowed for quick comparability. If the user wants to compare the first amendment to the third, they can put the cards side by side to see the changes.