There is so much happening at present at the intersection of law and technology that trying to put it all into context is overwhelming.

Without a contextual framework it is harder to appreciate the significance of these developments. Not all developments are significant. Without a framework, everything can seem random.

We know we shouldn’t be ignoring these developments because they are becoming embedded in our working lives. 

At a recent event, at Stanford University’s CodeX Center, such a framework was presented by its Executive Director, Dr. Roland Vogl. CodeX is a joint venture between Stanford’s computer science department and law school.

CodeX’s motto is “legal empowerment through information technology”. The contextual framework for legal technology presented by Dr. Vogl is based on three categories:

  • Legal Information Retrieval
  • Legal Infrastructure and
  • Computational Law

Rapid developments are occurring in all three categories.

Legal Information Retrieval involves using computers to get to legal information quicker and cheaper.

Legal Infrastructure relates to the use of IT in getting legal work done. This encompasses new platforms for resourcing legal work. It also includes practice management systems, workflow tools and eDiscovery.

Computational Law is about the automation of legal analysis. The two approaches to computational law, as outlined by Dr. Vogl, are rules based systems (logic and rules based) and data analysis (predictive analysis aided by statistics).

To summarise it further:

  • Legal Information Retrieval – technology used for finding legal information
  • Legal Infrastructure – technology used for increasing work efficiency
  • Computational Law – technology used for legal analysis

Now that we have established our neat categories, we can consider a category breaking company that came out of Stanford. The company is Casetext. It has developed a product called CARA. Although it is specific to North America, it highlights a type of service that will inevitably come to Australia.

CARA retrieves legal information and increases efficiency in legal research. However, its main value comes from its computational capabilities. Provide CARA with a legal brief and watch what happens next:

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