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CodeX Speaker Series with Marc Lauritsen: "Liberty, Justice, and Legal Automata"

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November 15, 2012 12:50pm - 2:00pm

Room 190

The American legal system is broken.  Millions of people with pressing legal needs go without help.  Courts are overwhelmed.  Lawyers are underemployed.  Law schools are struggling.

The good news is that much legal work can be done more effectively, by delegating parts to less specialized personnel and to our increasingly intelligent machines.  That includes systems for self-help and co-production.  We’re seeing corporate counsel and large law firms equip clients with automated document drafting tools, small firms embrace elawyering, and nonprofits mount online services for intelligent form generation.  An ‘Apps 4 Justice’ initiative is catalyzing law school courses in which students learn how to code such applications.

The future belongs to those lawyers who are reflective about law’s systemization and can choreograph optimal distributions of work across teams of humans and non-biological assistants.  They will understand how to craft knowledge tools and excel in new forms of collaborative deliberation.

This future may not arrive easily.  For instance, a robust and open market of interactively coded legal ideas seems in the best long term interest of both society and the profession, yet some would suppress automated assistance as the unauthorized practice of law.  Is that wise, or even constitutional?  Aren’t we at liberty to write, read, and run software about the law?

Sponsored by CodeX: Stanford Center for Legal Informatics.