The Future of Computational 'Law'
Commercial providers tend to advocate a brand of legal solutionism, by claiming increased efficiency, accuracy and/or insight that will replace much of the allegedly boring or time-consuming search for relevant legal information, thanks to data-driven legal search and the advent of machine-consumable law. Some believe these legal technologies will finally democratise access to justice based on the scaling of legal services for marginalised communities, due to cheaper products or semi-automation of collective action, and seamless access to relevant legislation. Others express scepticism about the supposed added value, warning against a kind of technological solutionism that will play into the hands of those already well protected, or lead us into a form of digital legalism. Indeed, a proposal has been made to develop a dedicated digisprudence to face the issues of computational law.
CRCL aims to steer free of either techno-optimism or techno-pessimism, instead seeking to inquire into (i) the theoretical assumptions and affordances of NLP and computer code in both data- and code-driven ‘legal techs’, (ii) the complex socio-technical dynamics that will play out when integrating advanced legal search into legal practice, (iii) the implications of all this for legal doctrine, legal practice, legal scholarship and, finally, (iv) the kind of legal protection afforded by text-driven law.
CRCL23 is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the HORIZON2020 Excellence of Science program ERC-2017-ADG No 788734.