Judge Peck's Opinion on Computer Assisted Review (i.e. Predicitve Coding)

See also Monique Da Silva Moore, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Publicis Groupe & MSL Group, Defendents (Opinion and Order).  as well as this article, this article, this article, this article, etc. from a few days ago (when there was a bit of misreporting on this case). [ HT: Legal Informatics Blog ]

The Age of Big Data [via NY Times]

Please read this article and ask yourself how can we get in front of this – both as a profession and as an academy.

Big Data and ‘Soft’ Artificial Intelligence are the center piece of my presentation and forthcoming paper the Age of Quantitative Legal Prediction. For the legal services industry, a very different world  is coming (is already here in certain circles). As a Law Professor, I am preparing my students to be the leaders in this world with my Quantitative Methods for Lawyers course, Legal Information Technology & Engineering (London Summer Program), E-Discovery as well as several other courses that my MSU colleagues and I are developing.

As I said to start the year – it is time to step up your game.  🙂

Legal Reasoning [ By Barbara Spellman & Frederick Schauer ]

From the abstract: “The nature of legal reasoning, and its relationship with reasoning, has long been a topic of importance for lawyers and legal scholars. But it is also a topic with psychological implications, especially cognitive ones, and indeed most of the existing views about legal reasoning depend on psychological assumptions about the way in which ordinary people, lawyers, and judges reason and make decisions. This article, a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Thinking and Reasoning (K. Holyoak & R. Morrison eds.), explores the intersection between cognitive and social psychology, on the one hand, and legal reasoning and thinking and decision making, on the other. It attempts to show how existing psychological research is germane to the important questions about the nature legal reasoning – particularly with respect to precedent, analogy, authority, and rule-following – but even more it attempts to suggest a range of topics and questions that additions to the now-small body of psychological research might usefully address.”

This is very useful paper. If anything, I believe the authors have understated the importance of these questions and this line of research – particularly in light of the broader dynamic of “human v. machine” which I have argued will come to dominate the future of the legal services industry (as well as other professional services).  That does not mean that humans will be replaced writ large but there is some significant displacement coming down the pipeline — see here, here, here, here, here, etc.

Katz & Bommarito – Slides from Introductory Tutorial in Network Analysis and Law @ Jurix 2011 Meeting (University of Vienna – Faculty of Law)

Legal Language Explorer – Presentation @ 24th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems (Jurix 2011)

Announcing the Beta Pre-Release of Legal Language Explorer.com < Search the History of ANY Phrase in the Decisions of the United States Supreme Court >

In partnership with Michigan State University College of Law and Emory Law, today we announce the Beta Pre-Release of a New Web Interface – LegalLanguageExplorer.com. We are just getting started here with this project and anticipate many features that will be rolling out to you in the near future. Please feel free to send us your feedback / comments.


Instant Return of a Time Series Plot for One or More Comma Separated Phrases.  The default search is currently interstate commerce, railroad, deed (with plots for each of the term displayed simultaneously).

Feel free to test out ANY phrase of Up to Four Words in length.

Here are just a few of our favorites:

Clear and Present Danger
Habeas Corpus
Custodial Interrogation
Due Process

In the current version, we are offering results for EVERY decision of the United States Supreme Court (1791-2005).  We plan to soon expand to other corpora including the U.S. Court of Appeals, etc.

Each of the Phrases you search will be highlighted in Blue.  If you click on these highlighted phrases you will be taken to the full list of United States Supreme Court decisions that employ this phrase:

Check out the advanced features including normalization and alternative graphing tools.

Daniel Martin Katz, Michael J. Bommarito II, Julie Seaman, Adam Candeub & Eugene Agichtein, Legal N-Grams? A Simple Approach to Track the ‘Evolution’ of Legal Language in Proceedings of Jurix: The 24th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems (Vienna 2011) available at  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1971953

Click on the Image Below and You Will Be Directed to our Presentation at 24th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems ( Jurix 2011 – Vienna )
This offers some motivation for the project as well as a Brief Slide Based Tutorial Designed to Highlight Various Functions Available on the Site.


Michael J. Bommarito, Building Legal Language Explorer: Interactivity and Drill-Down, noSQL and SQL available at http://www.michaelbommarito.com/blog/2011/12/16/building-legal-language-explorer-interactivity-and-drill-down-nosql-and-sql/

Network Analysis and Law Tutorial @ Jurix 2011 – Universität Wien

I am going to bump this post back to the top as a reminder – we look forward to seeing you at the Jurix 2011 Network Analysis and Law Tutorial

“Prior to the 2011 Jurix Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems, Professor Daniel Martin Katz (Michigan State University, College of Law) and Michael Bommarito (University of Michigan – Center for the Study of Complex Systems) will present a tutorial on Network Analysis and Law.

“While historically allied with fields such as mathematical sociology, developments in network science have been generated by a wide range of disciplines, with major recent contributions offered by fields such as applied mathematics and statistical physics. Applied graph theorists often refer to networks as dependency graphs because they formalize the underlying linkages between objects.  Whether the objects in question are webpages on the internet, individuals in a social network such as Facebook or software dependencies in computer programming, the study of networks is the ‘science of our times.’

Building upon the developments in this interdisciplinary field, legal scholars and social scientists have recently begun to apply the tools of network science to bring new insight to a variety of long standing questions including the social structure of legal elites and the ‘evolution’ of the common law. This introductory tutorial is designed to help acquaint intellectually curious scholars with developments in this rapidly emerging field.”

Please join us in Vienna, Austria – December 13, 2011 @ Universität Wien for the Network Analysis and Law Tutorial as we help kick off Jurix 2011 Week.

Announcing the 21st Century Law Practice London Summer Program – MSU College of Law – (In Partnership with University of Westminster)

Program Description:  “The MSU / Westminster 21st Century Law Practice London Summer Program is a first of its kind, intensive study of technology, innovation, regulation, entrepreneurship and the international legal marketplace. With the deregulation of lawyers in the United Kingdom and the outgrowth of alternative legal services delivery models, London is poised to become the global leader in the legal services market. Our program will educate students about these new delivery models and help prepare students for the technology infused law jobs of the 21st Century.”

Educational Objectives:

(1) Provide students a comprehensive understanding of the market for legal services as it transitions to a global legal supply chain in the wake of deregulation, economic pressures, and technological innovation.

(2) Prepare students to become practice-ready entrepreneurial lawyers who can leverage information technology in order to operate more efficiently and thereby attract (and retain) clients.

(3) Inspire students to think broadly about future delivery of legal representation and access to justice by exposing them to the innovative legal service delivery models and platforms of the present (and not-too-distant future).

Courses for the 2012 Program:
Legal Information Engineering & Technology
– The increasing role of legal information technology in the law practice of today (and the not too distant future) will be highlighted in this course. Students will be exposed to a number of emerging approaches in legal automation, process engineering, informatics / ‘soft’ artificial intelligence (e-discovery, automated document generation), supply chain management, and quantitative legal prediction.

21st Century Law Practice – This course will provide students with an overview of the practice challenges facing lawyers in the 21st century, including economic pressures, technological advancements, increased globalization, international deregulation, and access to justice concerns (for example, reading the work of Richard Susskind, Thomas Morgan, and others).  Building upon this background, the course will then explore a set of case studies to examine a variety of innovative new legal services delivery mechanisms and businesses in the US and the UK, such as Axiom, LawVest, Lawyers2You, LegalZoom, QualitySolicitors, Rocket Lawyer and others that have been created in anticipation of (or in some cases in response to) these practice challenges.  Students will critically assess these legal service providers, and will reflect upon how lawyers and regulators should respond.

The Legal Services Act and UK Deregulation – Students will study the history and impact of the Legal Services Act and deregulation of the profession in the UK with a focus on how the resulting innovations (both regulatory changes and new legal services delivery mechanisms that follow) might be exported to the United States. Also encompassed in this course will be a comparative overview of American and British law governing lawyers and law practice, along with emphasis on globalization pressures faced by the legal profession.


21st Century Legal Informatics: Part 1, Introduction [Cross Post MJB II Blog]

Dan and I have written and spoken on legal informatics many times.  Inevitably these conversations come to the same cut-and-paste list of informatics examples from legal search/retrieval and decision making.  It’s struck me that these examples fall into two categories.  The first category sits firmly in the 20th century, while the second category belongs in the 22nd century.  I’ll support my argument below and conclude this introduction with a lead into what I’d like to call 21st century law.  The rest of this series will provide living, breathing examples, leveraging new technologies and new paradigms that are useful today, in the 21stcentury.

20th Century Legal Informatics – Computers as Libraries


Ask a typical lawyer how informatics affects their practice, and, if you’re lucky, they might mention that salary infographic their friend emailed them a few weeks ago.  Data, modeling, statistics, and visualization might be seen as cute toys, but not real tools.   Ask a typical lawyer how search affects them, however, and they’ll have no trouble producing a list of five-figure-per-seat services like Lexis, West, CCH, or RIA.  So why is it that only search has enjoyed such a successful impact on practice?  Is it because other informatics tools just aren’t useful?

My opinion on the matter is that search is the only informatics tool that fits into the current legal paradigm, which I’ll call the library modellaw is a field of humans interpreting words, words live on documents, and documents live in libraries.  Legal training focuses on reading and interpreting words and documents.  Success in practice depends on locating, interpreting, and communicating information.  Therefore, for a new tool to be accepted by lawyers, it must complement this library model to allow lawyers to locate, interpret, and communicate faster and better.  From this standpoint, it’s easy to see why search has succeeded – it is a tool easily applied to language that facilitates the traditional library model of law.

The library model of law, while Aristotelian in ideals, still conveniently abstracts the underlying world away in an unmeasurable Platonic black box.  As such, words, not numbers and functions, are the most convenient way to communicate states.  It is hard to argue against this on any practical grounds.  Despite the progress of science and the acceptance of measurement in modern society, many quantities integral to legal questions will remain unmeasurable.  The best example, of course, is intent.  Did he mean to kill her?  Did they mean to commit fraud?  While we have the ability to detect intent at a vague level through fMRIs, would we ever consent as a society to have “intent implants” that continuously measured and recorded our every impulse?  The average gut reaction to Minority Report suggests not.

Philosophy aside, we can agree that human language is the most practical medium to practice law, and that search is the most practical tool to facilitate work in this medium.  Computers are simply portable, accessible, and easily searched libraries, and the labor of law is still primarily conducted by humans.  While technology can improve productivity, our creativity is constrained by the underlying library model of law, as well as the low expectations set by the 1L’s first venture into the stacks of the quiet, dusty library.

22nd Century Legal Informatics – Computers as Lawyers


The second category is best understood through a hope and a struggle: IBM Watson and the International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law (IAAIL).  Watson embodies the hopes of 22nd century legal informatics, in which law is a field of computers building and interpreting models to make legal decisions.  In the days and weeks after Watson’s victory against other Jeopardy! contents, there was a slew of articles on the automation of information services like law; even the ABA chimed in.

Likewise, the IAAIL embodies the struggles and failures of this model.  Arguably one of the most forward thinking associations in academia, the IAAIL and its members have been presenting data models and ontologies, search methods, expert systems, and judicial reasoning for more than 30 years.  Their approach to empiricism and rationalism in law predates acceptance in many other social fields.  Many of their ideas might provide a significant improvement in the quality and cost of legal outcomes in situations ranging from negotation to arbitration to litigation.  However, as a participant and former member myself, I will readily admit that the IAAIL has mostly failed to introduce these ideas into the mainstream of legal practice.  Experts, not expert systems, still dominate evidence and testimony.  Justices and judges, never computers, reason and decree from the bench.  Even the elegant models of argumentation and reasoning are mostly ignored by legal educators.

The reason for this failure, in my opinion, is that these ideas, for all their worth, do not complement the library model of law outlined above.  So long as this is the model of education and practice, many of IAAIL’s ideas will remain just that – ideas, drifting in the clouds (and I don’t mean Amazon Web Services).  Progress will come, but slowly and in steps, measured by successes like Watson’s stunning and public expert system.  And so we can agree for now that the future is promising, but certainly not here.  Computers are not and will not functionally replace humans in most legal contexts any time soon.

21st Century Legal Informatics – Computers and Lawyers


What can we do in the meantime while our robotic overlords are still incubating?  How can we improve the quality and cost of law despite the constraints of our weak, organic bodies and slow-moving societies?  I’d like to argue that the way forward is through 21st century law, not 20th or 22nd century law, as identified by the principles below:

  1. Balance.  Neither humans nor computers alone will provide optimal outcomes.  21st century law must allocate these two assets based on a solid understanding of process workflow and technology.
  2. Measure, but not too much.  Measure whenever and wherever possible, but avoid promoting measurement when it isn’t the solution.  Measurement drives further formalization of law, either by inductively determining better rules or by better evaluating rules.
  3. Change, but not too much.  The library model of law is a natural paradigm for a species as expressive as ours.  However, when we can measure, our languages are often worse approximations than mathematical models and numbers.  Focus on cases where accurate, accepted, and easily evaluated models can be built, such as finance, and slowly chip away at the library model through these successes.
  4. Aim high.  Don’t let expectations based on the library model set your bar for success.  Apply and experiment with whatever technology is available to retrieve faster and analyze better.  Just because Lexis and headnotes are faster and easier than a trip to the stacks doesn’t mean search and research shouldn’t be faster and better.

Sounds pretty easy, right?  Stay tuned for examples to come, including e-Discovery, search, and legal rule exploration.

[Cross Posted from MichaelBommarito.com Blog]

Legal Futures.co.uk Conference – New ways to Practise Law

My thanks to Neil Rose and all of the LegalFutures.co.uk conference organizers and speakers – it was a very interesting conference. As a byproduct of the modifications to the UK Legal Services Act, change is on the march in the UK legal services market. Keep your eye on these developments — as they may be coming to the US — sooner rather than later.

Judges in Jeopardy? – Actually – It is Lawyers in Jeopardy

While I really appreciate the spirit of this article, I have to say that the question posed by the author is not actually the critical one.  As noted by Larry Ribstein in his post “Lawyers in Jeopardy” — the primary question raised by Watson and other forms of soft to medium artificial intelligence is their impact on the market for legal services. In thinking about this broader problem, I am haunted by the line from There Will be Blood – “I Drink Your Milkshake.”  In this metaphor, technology is the straw and the legal information engineer is Daniel Day Lewis.

It is worth noting that although high-end offerings such as Watson represent a looming threat to a variety of professional services — one need not look to something as lofty as Watson to realize the future is likely to be turbulent. Law’s Information Revolution is already underway and it is a revolution in data and a revolution in software.  Software is eating the world and the market for legal services has already been impacted.  This is only the beginning.  We are at the very cusp of a data driven revolution that will usher in new fields such as Quantitative Legal Prediction (which I have discussed here).

Pressure on Big Law will continue.  Simply consider the extent to which large institutional clients are growing in their sophistication.  These clients are developing the data-streams necessary to effectively challenge their legal bills.  Whether this challenge is coming from corporate procurement departments, corporate law departments or with the aid of third parties — the times they are indeed a-changin’.

A variety of intermediary consulting firms and legal informatics companies have developed a robust business advising corporate clients how to find various arbitrage opportunities in the legal services market. One of the best examples is TyMetrix — who has recently leveraged more than $4 billion in legal spend data to help General Counsels and their corporate law departments drive down legal costs.  Indeed, The Real Rate Report has made a huge splash (if you do know what I am talking about – I suggest you learn – because it is a pretty big deal).