Kevin D. Ashley


This article provides a guide and examples for using a seminar on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Law to teach lessons about legal reasoning and about legal practice in the digital age. Artificial Intelligence and Law is a subfield of AI/ computer science research that focuses on computationally modeling legal reasoning. In at least a few law schools, the AI and Law seminar has regularly taught students fundamental issues about law and legal reasoning by focusing them on the problems these issues pose for scientists attempting to computationally model legal reasoning. AI and Law researchers have designed programs to reason with legal rules, apply legal precedents, predict case outcomes, argue like a legal advocate and visualize legal arguments. The article illustrates some of the pedagogically important lessons that they have learned in the process.

As the technology of legal practice catches up with the aspirations of AI and Law researchers, the AI and Law seminar can play a new role in legal education. With advances in such areas as e-discovery, legal information retrieval (IR), and semantic processing of web-based information for electronic contracting, the chances are increasing that, in their legal practices, law students will use, and even depend on, systems that employ AI techniques. As explained in the Article, an AI and Law seminar invites students to think about processes of legal reasoning and legal practice and about how those processes employ information. It teaches how the new digital documents technologies work, what they can and cannot do, how to measure performance, how to evaluate claims about the technologies, and how to be savvy consumers and users of the technologies.