Computational Legal Studies Comes of Age

1 European Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 89 (2024)

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2024-40

15 Pages Posted: 13 May 2024 Last revised: 30 May 2024

See all articles by Bao Kham Chau

Bao Kham Chau

Cornell University - Cornell Tech NYC; Rebooting Social Media Initiative

Michael A. Livermore

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: May 13, 2024

Abstract

Computational analysis techniques are transforming empirical legal scholarship. Two paradigms have emerged: law-as-code, which seeks to represent legal rules in a logical, executable format; and law-as-data, which leverages quantitative analysis of legal texts to reveal patterns and insights. This article surveys these approaches, emphasizing recent developments in large language models and generative artificial intelligence (AI). Law-as-code systems have enabled applications from tax preparation software to smart contracts, but realizing the vision of fully computational law has proven challenging. Law-as-data techniques like natural language processing and machine learning have charted the se-mantic relationship between courts and illuminated changes in judicial culture. Generative models showcase AI's explosive progress, with impressive feats like passing the U.S. bar example, but they also highlight limitations like factual inaccuracy and interpretability issues. Hybrid approaches integrating computational law, data science, and AI offer a promising research direction. As these tools spread, legal scholars can analyze more legal data than ever before, but they must remain cognizant of challenges like biased or low-quality data and linguistic/cultural limitations. Used judiciously alongside traditional methods, computational analysis has the potential to revolutionize empirical legal studies.

Final published version available at: https://doi.org/10.62355/ejels.19684

Keywords: law as data, artificial intelligence and law, computational analysis of law

Suggested Citation

Chau, Bao Kham and Livermore, Michael A., Computational Legal Studies Comes of Age (May 13, 2024). 1 European Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 89 (2024), Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2024-40, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4826144

Bao Kham Chau

Cornell University - Cornell Tech NYC ( email )

2 West Loop Rd.
New York, NY 10044
United States

Rebooting Social Media Initiative ( email )

William James Hall, Sixth Floor
33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael A. Livermore (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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