Meeting Summary: The steady deposition into the public record of digitized legal materials – ranging from judicial opinions to large corpora of regulations and laws, from all around the world, has given rise to a significant data driven effort directed at the understanding of the law. Techniques from network science, machine text analysis, and other advanced computational techniques, coupled with various more traditional statistical techniques are already proving useful for the articulation of novel structures in the law, displaying the utility of a “big data” approach to the study of human legal systems. This is an approach that is complementary to the important theoretical and philosophical approaches also crucial for understanding the law.
A Working Group in Computational Study of the Law brings together a broad group of investigators interested in the study of the law through large-scale text-as-data techniques. Our group of scholars in law, mathematics, and the social sciences will frame a research program for the computational study of law. This research program involves the construction of new conceptual models of law and legal development, the invention of new methods and analysis, and the organizing and curation of sources of data. Together, the concepts, methods, and data will form a “standard package” that can structure a multidisciplinary course of inquiry with the potential to generate new scientific insights into law as a social and political phenomenon as well as provide practical guidance to policymakers and legal practitioners. The group will produce a volume for SFI’s newly minted SFI Press Complexity series.