Guest post by Seung Hoon Park, a 2L at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Seung Hoon was a research assistant for Daniel W. Linna Jr. during the summer of 2020. In this guest post, Seung Hoon examines the current regulation of South Korea’s legal tech industry and emphasizes the need for change. Seung Hoon discusses how updating legal-services regulations will help grow South Korea’s legal tech industry so that more law firms can provide services based on advanced technology.


In South Korea, the legal tech industry is in its early stages, exploring its way forward in an environment limited by regulations. Large South Korean law firms are adopting technology tools, such as e-discovery and digital forensics equipment.[i] Although lawyers use technology tools to help them deliver services, they are not yet providing client-facing tools using technology, such as expert systems that can be used by clients to solve a specific problem. Most of South Korea’s legal tech services are provided by start-up companies. The services provided by these start-up companies are mainly divided into 1) attorney-search services, 2) automated document completion services, and 3) legal information research services. Below, I introduce the contents of each service, the start-ups providing it, and related regulations.

Major services and regulations

(1) Attorney search service

Using this service, clients can search for many lawyers who have a specialty related to various legal matters. For example, Law Talk is a platform for customers to search for lawyers. This platform currently operates legal counseling services such as “15-minute phone consultation” and “30-minute visit consultation.”

However, according to the Attorneys’ Act in South Korea, no person shall introduce a party to a specific attorney-at-law after receiving or being offered beforehand money, valuables, entertainment or other benefits (Article 34 (1)). Therefore, these services are offered for a flat-rate advertising fee from lawyers, and the fees are not shared with anyone who is not a lawyer. Many people point out that the attorney search service cannot make enough profit to expand their service due to the nature of business models that entirely rely on advertising fees. Avvo, an online marketplace for legal services in the U.S., found itself in a similar situation. According to a joint ethics opinion by three New Jersey Supreme Court committees, lawyers in New Jersey cannot participate in client-linking services offered by Avvo because of ethics issues stemming from the company’s “marketing fee.”[ii]

In 2020, NHN,[iii] a large company, entered the attorney-search service market in South Korea. NHN charged a platform fee of 5.5% from the amount paid by the customer. If this price is equivalent to the usual usage fee or advertising fee, it is not in violation of the law. However, if NHN receives a certain percentage of the attorney’s fee, and they receive significantly more money than the usual usage fee, it might be interpreted as an introduction fee, which would violate the Attorneys’ Act.

Related to this service, on July 22, 2020 the Korean Lawyers Association (KLA) accused NHN of violating the Attorney’s Act, claiming that the flat 5.5% fee is higher than the usual usage fee. KLA claimed that NHN charges from 3.65% to 5.85% depending on the payment method in their other online marketplace not for lawyers. KLA is a lawyers group consisting only of lawyers who have graduated from South Korean law schools. On the other hand, the Korean Bar Association, which is a group of all lawyers, did not provide an official opinion at this time. In the midst of controversy, NHN decided to cut their fees on July 28. The new fee is determined by the payment method, and it ranges from 1.65% to 3.74%. NHN explains that this fee is only the usual usage fee, and they do not receive their own fee from this service. Nevertheless, as of September, the Korean Bar Association seemed to be leaning toward interpreting this case as a violation of law.[iv] It has not yet been determined whether this fee may be interpreted as an illegal introduction fee.

(2) Automated document completion service

Using this service, customers can make legal documents by simply entering necessary information without the help of lawyers. For example, Help Me and Amicus Lex each provide a service to create various legal documents automatically, including contracts.

However, according to the Attorneys’ Act in South Korea, any person who is not licensed to practice as an attorney is prohibited from practicing law, including arbitration in exchange for any economic profits, and a criminal penalty of up to seven years in prison shall be imposed on anyone in violation of this prohibition (Article 109 (1)). In addition, attorneys are not allowed to operate their business in partnership with non-attorneys according to the Attorneys’ Act (Article 34). Therefore, it is difficult for law firms to introduce new technologies in cooperation with other technology companies.

(3) Legal research service

Using this service, customers can research relevant provisions and cases conveniently. For example, Intellicon provides a legal research service, “U-Lex,” which utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning. When customers input non-legal terms, the service interprets the legal meaning of the search query to find relevant laws and cases, and automatically displays relevant terms and phrases related to search terms. In addition, Intellicon launched “Alpha Law,” a service that evaluates contracts in a few seconds using natural language processing technology based on deep learning.[v] This service has the function of extracting and analyzing important contents in the contracts, finding the risk factors, and presenting the legal impact to customers.

Legal research tools, however, lack access to court data needed to improve these tools. In South Korea, very few lower court case documents have been released. Even though people can see the documents when they visit the court library, there is only one court library in the country. In addition, people can only read the documents in the library, they cannot print or photograph. Although lawyers’ requests for the disclosure of lower court case data have increased, the requests have not happened, due at least in part to privacy concerns about personal information in the court records. For research services, the lack of data from cases in the lower courts leads to the lack of big data. Customers are not able to obtain the lower court cases they want, and the effectiveness of the legal research service decreases.

Challenges that Korea’s legal tech industry must overcome to grow

(1) Regulations

Restrictive regulations are a major reason why the introduction of legal tech is slow in South Korea. For example, if lower court cases were fully disclosed, it would be a great asset for an AI research service. Due to the Attorney’s Act, which prohibits operating a business in partnership with non-attorneys, only law firms or attorneys are able to provide legal services based on technologies. Traditionally, this provision was intended to prevent the emergence of brokers in the South Korean legal market. Specifically, this provision is designed to prevent the hiring of lawyers by brokers, who illegally connect the lawyers to clients. However, due to this limitation, law firms are unable to provide services in cooperation with technology providers.

Despite this, some law firms have found a way to cooperate with technology start-ups. For example, Barun Law collaborates with Uppsala Security, a security company that has its own cryptocurrency tracking solution. In their collaboration, Uppsala Security tracks the flow of stolen cryptocurrency of clients, and provides evidence to Barun Law. Based on this evidence, Barun Law takes legal action, such as freezing and seizing assets and filing civil lawsuits. To avoid an Attorney’s Act issue, they seem to contract with customers independently, and they are not sharing fees.

In 2018, Congressman Sung Ho Chung hosted a discussion regarding the revision of regulations for the legal tech industry. He also tried to propose a revision of the Attorney’s Act prohibition on profit distribution between lawyers and non-lawyers, although this was not successful. The bill was not proposed because it could not gather at least 10 concurrences from other Congress members. If the Attorney’s Act were amended, other companies would have a greater incentive to partner with law firms because they could share profits. As a result, law firms could adopt various technologies to improve their services more easily.

(2) Opposition from lawyers

To amend the Attorney’s Act, opposition from lawyers must also be overcome. The reaction of lawyers against legal tech seems to be divided into two branches. Some lawyers look for opportunities in the introduction of legal tech. For example, most of the start-ups above (Intellicon, Help Me, and Amicus Lex) are run by lawyers.

However, many lawyers are still against amending the Attorney’s Act. After the introduction of the law school system in South Korea, the number of new lawyers has increased significantly, from 1,000 to over 1,700 additional lawyers per year. Given this increase, lawyers are concerned about amending the Attorney’s Act because they think that the introduction of legal tech means that large corporations will enter the legal market, reducing the demand for lawyers. For example, in 2018 KLA issued a statement against amending the Attorney’s Act. They said that if tech companies are allowed to work with lawyers, a small number of large companies having capital and technologies will use lawyers to help them practice law. In particular, lawyers are concerned that the income of lawyers will eventually decrease as large companies raise their fees after establishing a monopoly in the market.[vi]

South Korea’s competition law includes regulations governing market dominant companies.[vii] It is forbidden for a market dominant company[viii] to significantly increase fees that are compared to fluctuations in supply and demand or fluctuations in costs required for supply without a justifiable reason. Nevertheless, if technology companies providing legal services charge similar fees as other marketplace service providers, they might not be punished under this provision. This situation could be a good development for consumers, but it could hurt lawyers at the same time. Nevertheless, if the service could help consumers, it would be difficult for lawyers to justify opposing it.


To grow South Korea’s legal tech industry so that more law firms can provide services based on advanced technology, the Attorney’s Act needs to be amended. If regulation is changed to foster innovation and appropriate competition, the entire legal market in South Korea will be able to expand as the legal tech industry grows.


[i] Digital Forensics refers to a forensic investigation technique that collects and extracts data contained in digital devices such as PCs and smartphones. The law firm’s digital forensics teams are in charge of internal investigations of the company. The internal investigation of a company is used to predict legal risks that a company may face through preliminary investigations, and devise measures to prevent them.

[ii] Debra Cassens Weiss, ‘Marketing fees’ paid to Avvo violate New Jersey lawyer conduct rules, ethics opinion says, ABAJOURNAL (Jun. 26, 2017),

[iii] NHN ranks first in the web-searching market in South Korea, and has a mobile messenger app “Line,” which ranks first in market share in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

[iv] According to a newspaper article on September 17, the Chairman of the Korean Bar Association visited NHN’s headquarters recently and he conveyed the opinion that NHN’s service violates the Attorneys’ Act.

[v] This service uses “natural language processing” technology like U-Lex. This service is optimized for labor contracts and non-disclosure agreements, but it will continue to expand to areas such as real estate purchase contracts, lease contracts, and license contracts.

[vi] A similar case occurred in 2020. The company occupying more than 50% of the food delivery market in South Korea decided to change its method of calculating fees. This policy was controversial in South Korea because it was disadvantageous for small restaurants. Eventually, due to pressure from politicians and public opinion, the company withdrew its plan.

[vii] Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act (Article 3-2).

[viii] If one company has a market share of 50% or more, or the total market share of three or fewer companies is 75% or more, they are assumed to be market dominant companies (Article 4).

By Mona Kalantar and Dan Linna

On April 14, 2020 seven interdisciplinary teams of 36 Northwestern computer science and law students presented demos of the projects they completed in the 2020 CS+Law Innovation Lab. Each student team worked closely with an external project partner and Professors Kris Hammond and Dan Linna. Nearly 250 people attended the online event, not including the student teams. Video of the event is available on YouTube.

The Innovation Lab immerses students in the product development process while they work with a project partner on a real-world legal-services delivery problem. The student teams explore the problem, develop an understanding of stakeholders’ needs, brainstorm, prototype, test ideas, and iterate through the development of a technology-based solution.

The teams receive training in and use agile Scrum project management to self-organize, plan their work, and communicate within the team and with their project partners and instructors. The teams also learn scientific thinking and Toyota Kata as a framework for working together to improve, adapt, and innovate while tackling difficult challenges and uncertainty.

A panel of experts provided commentary and asked follow-up questions after each demo:

  • Khalid Al-Kofahi – Thomson Reuters, Vice President, Research and Development and Head, Center for AI and Cognitive Computing
  • Jason Barnwell – Microsoft, Assistant General Counsel-Modern Legal
  • Farrah Pepper – Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., Chief Legal Innovation Counsel
  • Luke Tanen – Chicago Innovation, Executive Director

“It is very exciting to see computer scientists, attorneys and creative designers put their heads together to solve these problems.” Dr. Al-Kofahi said. “The amount of work that was done in that class in a quarter, and what the teams were able to achieve significantly exceeded my expectations.”

“It was amazing to see how much progress the teams made in such a short amount of time,” Barnwell tweeted. “The skills these teams brought together highlights the 1+1=3 nature of interdisciplinary teams. Are we seeing the future of the practice being built in front of us?”

“I’m ready to pull a Rodney Dangerfield and go back to school and join [the] class,” Pepper said. “I hope each of you feel like it’s a privilege to be part of this journey that the whole profession is going on right now.”

“[E]veryone I saw did an excellent job, both in the ideas, but also in the presentations,” Tanen said. “The legal industry is ripe for innovation … . There’s so much opportunity right now in Chicago in the legal tech space and just seeing these presentations clearly indicates that there’s going to be a lot more to come.”

The students on the seven interdisciplinary teams came from the JD, LLM, and Master of Science in Law programs at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the Computer Science and Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence programs at Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering. The teams, with the guidance of Professors Hammond and Linna, worked closely with external partners to develop prototype technology solutions to legal-services delivery challenges.

Honigman LLP

Project: Health Law: Innovating Compliance with Stark Law
Project Partner Leads: Andrea N. Lee, Partner; Drew Sanders, Legal Project Management Specialist
Student Team: Alex Crowley, JD ‘21; Josh Devorkin, MSL ‘20; Natalie Ghidali, BSCS ‘21; Jingsi Peng, MSL ‘20; Jakub Wasylkowski, MSCS ‘21; Vaishnavi Yeruva, MSAI ‘20

Honigman challenged the student group to create a technology tool that helps physicians comply with the Stark Law. The Stark Law prohibits physicians from referring patients to a health service from which the physician will receive a direct or indirect financial benefit. Stark Law is complex, making it difficult for physicians to comply and avoid liability without the assistance of a lawyer. The Honigman student team developed a tool that it said helps “physicians gain insight into whether this law applies to them and streamlines the data intake process without first having to consult a lawyer.” The tool generates a report that helps facilitate better communication between the lawyer and physician.

Honigman - Health Law: Innovating Compliance with Stark Law

Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, Supreme Court and Appellate Group

Project: Case Information Extraction and Flashcard Generation
Project Partner Leads: Manyee Chow, Innovation Project Manager; Katie Kopp, Managing Associate; Melanie Hallums, Senior Career Associate
Student Team: Einass Abdelmoula, JD ‘20; Zane Denmon, MSAI ‘20; Brandon Furduck, MSCS ‘20; Taehun Kim, MSCS ‘20; Zhili Wang, MSAI ‘20

Lawyers in Orrick’s Supreme Court & Appellate Group must prepare for numerous oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts. Preparing for oral arguments often includes reviewing Q&A flashcards, which are created from the briefs filed with the court. This manual process of creating the flashcards is both time-consuming and tedious. The Orrick student team created a tool to extract Q&A pairs from the eight relevant sections of a brief and automate the creation of flashcards. On average, it takes 20 minutes for the tool to process a 60-page brief. The tool improves the efficiency of creating the flashcards and allows attorneys and other professionals to refocus their time on higher-value tasks ahead of oral arguments.

Orrick - Case Information Extraction and Flashcard Generation

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office

Project: Orders of Protection – Domestic Violence
Student Team: Sarah O’Brien, CS ‘20; Alai Jin, MSCS ‘20; Juan Pablo Ruiz L., LLM ‘20; Yirou Wu, LLM 20

On average, 24 people a minute are victims of domestic violence by an intimate partner in the United States. For victims of domestic violence who pursue an order of protection, the process can be extremely confusing and time-consuming. Victims filing for an order of protection usually (a) have no access to desktop computers to file online, (b) find the filing process cognitively draining and overwhelming, and (c) face abusers who monitor their use of technology. This student team, working with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, built a tool that will make the process more accessible for victims. The student group demoed a mobile tool that victims can use to advocate for themselves and file for orders of protection. Notably, the app is disguised and provides a “quick escape” out of the app to a safe screen.

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office - Orders of Protection - Domestic Violence

The Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Title: Eviction Court Navigator
Project Partner Leads:  Sarah Song, Thomas F. Geraghty Fellow; Laurie Mikva, Civil Litigation Center Director
Student Team: Jonathan Deitch, JD ‘21; Allan Farkash, CS ‘20; Caroline Christiane Fort, LLM ‘20; Akbar Imamov, MSAI ‘20; Jiangpeng Pan, MSL ‘20; Sundar Thevar, MSAI ‘20

Students partnering with the Bluhm Legal Clinic addressed a lack of legal guidance for tenants facing eviction. The team reported that “90% of tenant defendants in Cook County eviction court are self-represented, while roughly 80% of landlord plaintiffs have adequate legal representation.” Their solution, EvictionGuides, is a web-based tool that helps tenants plan their defense and orient themselves to eviction court. The tool provides tenants with information they can incorporate into a script for tenants who must present their case to a court. EvictionGuides also provides information about resources available at the court, such as childcare and rooms for new mothers. The resource aims to facilitate more competent self-representation through organization and preparation.

Bluhm Legal Clinic - Eviction Court Navigator

Thomson Reuters Labs & Judge Wilfredo Martinez

Project: Human Trafficking Judicial Case Management
Project Partner Leads: Judge Wilfredo Martinez, Ninth Circuit Court of Florida (ret.); Brian Ulicny, VP, Thomson Reuters Labs
Student Team: Eric DeChant, MSL ‘20; Akash Bharadwaj Govindarajula Venkata Sai, MSAI ‘20; Bijal Mehta, CS ‘20; Shen Peng, MSL ‘20; Neelanshi Varia, MSAI ‘20

Thomson Reuters Labs and Judge Wilfredo Martinez presented the group with the challenge of building a tool to help judges identify victims of human trafficking, using subtle indicators in the court record. In Judge Martinez’s experience, courts have not yet become adept at identifying indicators of human trafficking and therefore miss opportunities to handle cases of human trafficking appropriately. The student team developed Project Traffic Light, a guided Q&A system for judges. Project Traffic Light uses indicators and patterns to build a risk metric to identify the likelihood of a case involving human trafficking.

Thomson Reuters Labs and Judge Wilfredo Martinez - Human Trafficking Judicial Case Management

Simplifire & International Association for Contract and Commercial Management

Project: Distance Measurement for Contract Revisions
Project Partner Lead: Rory Unsworth, Smart Contracts Counsel, Swiss Re
Student Team: Justin Chae, MSL ‘20; Rodrigo Felli Paesdo Barros, LLM ‘20; John Nguyen, CS ‘21; Abhishek Pingle, CS ‘20

This team worked with Simplifire and the IACCM to create a solution that helps parties evaluate changes to a contract made during the negotiation process. Contract drafts tend to start with templates and standard clauses that are rewritten through the negotiation process. Simplifire wanted a tool to measure the “distance” between the rewrite and the original clause to help the people reviewing changes. The team said that their solution enhances the Simplifire platform by “building a method to detect international standards, estimate the importance [of changes], and presents that [analysis] back to the user.” The team developed an interface to facilitate rapid cognitive understanding and the ability to act rapidly on analysis from the tool. The tool then captures information to improve the analysis for future similar cases.

Simplifire - International Association for Contract and Commercial Management - Distance Measurement for Contract Revisions

Actuate Law & Allstate

Project: Building Better Privacy Compliance: Data Subject Access Requests
Project Partner Leads: Megan Pavich, Senior Managing Counsel, Allstate; Jeff Sharer, Chief Innovation Counsel, Actuate Law; Martin Tully, Founding Partner Actuate Law
Student Team: Daniel Blake, JD ‘20; Will Dong, MSAI ‘20; Chun-Hsuan Chu, LLM ‘20; Amanda Laucher, MSL ‘20; Ilan Ponsky, MSAI ‘20; KJ Schmidt, MSAI ‘20

Actuate Law & Allstate challenged their student team to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reviewing and responding to Data Subject Access Requests (“DSARs”). Privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA have rapidly changed the privacy landscape. Few companies are equipped to field individual requests for data subject information. The student’s solution, Access Buddy, is a platform that maintains requests for individual data and organizes the data-gathering process for companies. The platform maintains data for the different business units and requests information from them as needed. The tool compiles the data and facilitates sending it to the data subject.

Actuate Law and Allstate - Data Subject Access Requests

Closing Comments

Professors Hammond and Linna closed the program. Linna again thanked the students for their outstanding work, thanked the panel of experts, and thanked the project partners, who worked very closely with the student teams. Linna said that the students’ success would not have been possible without the efforts of the project partners. Linna also acknowledged the importance of the partnership between law and computer science and the support of many faculty and administrators, including McCormick Engineering Dean Julio M. Ottino and Pritzker Law Dean Kimberly Yuracko.

Professor Hammond echoed Linna’s comments. “[M]ost of all, I just want to say I’m incredibly proud of the students who did this work,” Hammond said.  “These are students who are coming at this from two incredibly different cultures. In the law the world is bespoke and in computer science bespoke is anathema. I mean, we all want to build things that are repeated 1,000, 10,000, a million times over. And getting those cultures together and getting people to understand what it means to take a piece of thinking and try to move it into scale is challenging.

“[T]his class is actually emblematic of what we want at Northwestern and what we want computer science to be. That is, outward facing, connected to the world, connected to the work, and part of the driver for change.”

In January 2020, I launched Version 1.03 of the Catalog of Law Firm Innovations, part of the Legal Services Innovation Index. Version 1.03 includes an additional 379 law firm innovations, bringing the total number of entries to 706. Northwestern Law students Alexander Crowley, Lauren Diner, Mona Kalantar, and Yoon Hoo Lee helped conduct the research for this version.

The goal of the Catalog is to “[i]dentify concrete examples of law firms offering products, legal services, or consulting services that constitute innovations in legal-service delivery or foster legal-service delivery innovations.” While we have employed systematic rigor to curate this information, the Catalog does not purport to be an exhaustive collection of all law firm innovations.

Version 1.03 includes innovations submitted through the form available on the Catalog page. Before adding these innovations to the Catalog, we verified the information, including the practice area and discipline driving the innovation. After making these additions, we reviewed prior entries, updating information where appropriate. We also removed six entries that had been added to version 1.02 after determining that they did not meet the Catalog criteria.

In addition to the submissions that we’ve received, we browsed the websites of the Global 100 (American Lawyer), Am Law 200 (American Lawyer), and Canadian top 30 law firms (Lexpert), looking for innovations that meet the Catalog criteria. Next, no matter what we found while browsing each law firm website, we completed specific Google searches for innovations at each individual firm.

After some experimentation, we settled on conducting two specific searches for each firm: “[firm name] innovation” and “[firm name] launch” (without any quotes). For each search, we reviewed the first five pages of results returned by Google and clicked on each result that appeared to lead to an innovation at the law firm that met the Catalog criteria. For each innovation that actually met the criteria, a team member confirmed the details on the law firm’s website and added the entry to the Catalog. A second team member reviewed each entry, including the designated discipline/tool, area of law, and description.

My team and I welcome feedback on how to improve this resource. We are currently working on improving the consistency of classifications and pruning entries that upon closer inspection do not satisfy the Catalog criteria.

If you know about a law firm innovation that is not included in the Catalog, please submit the innovation using the form available on the Catalog page. We will review your entry and include it in our next release.

How do we evaluate the quality and value of legal services? For example, if we compare two proposed contracts for a commercial agreement, how do we determine which contract is of higher quality? How do we determine the total value produced by the process of drafting, negotiating, and finalizing each contract? Would our answers change if some or all of the services are produced by a software application? If a software application is used, how would we evaluate the quality of any training data inputs, the development process, and the outputs of the software application? Would our assessment of the quality and value of the software application change if the software application is used to serve individuals who would otherwise go without a lawyer?

These are just some of the questions that I discuss in this draft book chapter, Evaluating Legal Services: The Need for a Quality Movement and Standard Measures of Quality and Value, the final version of which will be available in the Research Handbook on Big Data Law edited by Dr. Roland Vogl, forthcoming 2020, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. I’ve included the abstract for my chapter below. Continue Reading Evaluating Legal Services: The Need for a Quality Movement and Standard Measures of Quality and Value – Chapter in Research Handbook on Big Data Law

Mona Kalantar
Mona Kalantar

Mona Kalantar, a 3L at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, has been a research assistant for Daniel W. Linna Jr. at since May 2019. In this guest post, Mona highlights ways for attorneys to become data-driven. Doing so will add to the general body of knowledge and create industry-standards that could lead to the improvement of legal services.

Guest post by Mona Kalantar

In his 2012 article, Where is the ‘Quality Movement’ in Law Practice?, Professor William H. Simon argued that the quest for continuous improvement has largely bypassed legal practice. The legal profession has not fully embraced quality reforms that we have seen in other professions. Today, the drive for innovation is leading lawyers to think about how to provide greater value with fewer resources. The market is producing innovations within legal-services delivery organizations that promote streamlining processes, facilitating connectivity between legal professionals and clients, and creating opportunities for alternative fee arrangements. Despite the growing demand for legal-services delivery innovation, there is less evidence of demand for measuring the quality of legal work, performance, and outcomes. Continue Reading Guest Post: Getting Around to the Quality Movement in Law

Guest Post By Alex Crowley and Mona Kalantar

Over 120 attendees engaged in a vibrant discussion about the future of law and technology at Northwestern University’s first public meeting of its Law and Technology Initiative on September 5, 2019. Attendees included academics and students in computer science and law and lawyers and allied professionals from law firms, corporate legal departments, legal aid organizations, alternative legal services providers, consultancies, and legal startups.

The Law and Technology Initiative aims to address two needs: 

  • Technology for Law: First, as governments, justice systems, and legal-services providers adopt technologies of automation, prediction, intelligent search, and semantic analysis, there is a need to proactively guide and shape these technologies, even before they emerge.
  • Law of Technology: Second, there is a need for legal and regulatory guidance for new technologies, as many affect privacy, security, individual liberties, and views of liability and responsibility in the face of machine decision-making. 

Continue Reading Northwestern Law and Technology Initiative: 120 Attendees Discuss Law and Technology Challenges and Opportunities

This is a draft abstract for a talk that I gave to the Northwestern University Computer Science faculty on April 22, 2019.

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence presents many opportunities to improve law and society. At the same time, AI presents risks and potential harms. From a Law and Computational Technologies perspective, these opportunities and challenges can be separated into two categories. First, ethics, regulations, and laws that apply to technology. Second, the use of technology to improve legal-services delivery, justice systems, and the law itself. Each category also presents massive opportunities to use technology to preserve and expand the rule of law.

The deployment of AI raises many interesting questions about the application of existing law and regulation. AI also raises questions about the need for new law and regulation, including to ensure fairness, accountability, and transparency. Computational technologies also create opportunities to embed law, regulations, respect for human rights, and democratic principles into innovation processes and products, systems, and platforms by design and default. The goal ought to be to use law and regulation to guide the development, deployment, and maintenance of AI toward improving society, without unnecessarily impeding innovation.

Technology has also demonstrated the potential to revolutionize legal-services delivery, thus improving access to law and legal services for everyone. In the U.S., estimates are that more than 80% of the impoverished and more than 50% of the middle class lack access to legal services. Even some legal needs of businesses, large and small, go unmet. Computational technologies hold great promise for automating the delivery of various legal services across this spectrum. For basic legal needs, smartphones and other devices in the future could provide all users with an inventory of their legal rights and obligations, as well as solutions to common legal problems. Better yet, AI can foster Proactive Law to identify potential problems and prevent them from arising, or at least mitigate the risk.

As technologies advance, savvy lawyers will use them to augment their services. Innovative lawyers will embrace technologies that replace low-value, repetitive tasks and seize abundant opportunities to use technology to deliver greater value to clients and also contribute to interdisciplinary teams solving “wicked problems” for society. Updating laws and regulations for emerging technologies is one obvious area in which lawyers ought to be able to demonstrate that they can add tremendous value.

Innovation in legal-services delivery has been slow, however, in part because regulations traditionally prohibited lawyers from sharing fees with, and prohibited investment by, anyone who is not a lawyer. Consequently, lawyers and technologists rarely collaborate on legal-services delivery projects. But this is changing. An increasing number of lawyers today work with allied professionals to improve processes, better manage projects, embrace data-driven methods, and leverage technology to improve legal services and systems. Legal-services and lawyer regulations are evolving. And basic technologies and AI are slowly making their way into the legal industry, from legal aid organizations and courts to large law firms, corporate legal departments, and governments.

If we are to realize the potential to improve society with computational technologies, law, regulation, and ethical principles must be front and center at every stage, from problem definition, design, data collection, and data cleaning to training, deployment, and monitoring and maintenance of products and systems. To achieve this, technologists and lawyers must collaborate and share a common vocabulary. Lawyers must learn about technology, and technologists must learn about law. Multidisciplinary teams with a shared commitment to law, regulation, and ethics can proactively address today’s AI challenges, and advance our collaborative problem-solving capabilities to address tomorrow’s increasingly complex problems. Lawyers and technologists must work together to create a better future for everyone.


Michael Genesereth, Computational Law: The Cop in the Backseat, 

Gillian K. Hadfield, Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 

Mireille Hildebrandt, Law As Computation in the Era of Artificial Legal Intelligence. Speaking Law to the Power of Statistics (June 7, 2017). Available at SSRN: 

David Howarth, Law as Engineering: Thinking About What Lawyers Do (Edward Elgar Pub, 2014), 

John O. McGinnis & Russell G. Pearce, The Great Disruption: How Machine Intelligence Will Transform the Role of Lawyers in the Delivery of Legal Services (May 13, 2014), 82 Fordham Law Review 3041 (2014) Available at SSRN: 

George Siedel and Helena Haapio, Proactive Law for Managers: A Hidden Source of Competitive Advantage, (Routledge, 2011),

This last fall, I began updating the Legal Services Innovation Index, focusing first on the Catalog of Law Firm Innovations. I have had the help of three research assistants, Northwestern second-year law students Lauren Diner, Douglas Lavey, and Yoon Hoo Lee.

We’ve added 112 entries to Version 1.02 of the Law Firm Innovation Catalog, for a total of 334 entries. I previously described the methodology employed to curate the list of innovations on the Catalog page. In addition to the innovations that we’ve gathered, many were submitted by law firms, each of which we reviewed before adding to the Catalog.

In addition to the curation process described on the Catalog page, we also performed a Google search for each of the 264 law firms that comprise the Am Law 200 (American Lawyer), Global 100 (American Lawyer), and Canadian top 30 law firms (Lexpert). The search query included the law firm name with the terms “innovation,” “product,” and “client service.” We reviewed the first two pages of results returned by Google. This search process was not designed to be comprehensive, but merely to help us identify well known innovations. Only innovations listed on the law firm’s website have been included in the Catalog.

The goal of the Catalog is to “identify concrete examples of law firms offering products, legal services, or consulting services that constitute innovations in legal-service delivery or foster legal-service delivery innovations.” As described above, the curation of this information has been somewhat ad hoc. While we have employed a measure of systematic rigor while curating and reviewing this information, the Catalog does not purport to be a representative survey of the legal landscape. It is important to understand and disclose these limitations before drawing conclusions based on comparisons across categories, between versions, etc.

The full-screen Tableau visualizations of versions 1.02 and 1.01 of the Catalog are available on my Tableau Public page. As always, I welcome all feedback on how to improve this resource.

Has your law firm implemented an innovation that is not listed on the Catalog? Please submit the information, using the form available at the bottom of the Catalog page. We will review your entry and add it to the Catalog soon. Going forward, I plan to complete updates more frequently.

Next, my team and I are working on updates to the Law School Innovation Index. Stay tuned for additional information.

Last year’s launch of the Legal Services Innovation Index attracted much more attention than I anticipated. I knew that some would find the information useful, having been in the position of trying to gather data about innovation both as a lawyer in a law firm and a professor in a law school. But I underestimated the demand.

To date, there have been over 29,600 views of the three Tableau visualizations that make up the Index: the Law Firm Innovation Catalog, the Law Firm Innovation Index, and the prototype Law School Innovation Index.

Now that I’ve moved to Chicago and settled in at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as a Visiting Professor of Law, I’ve begun work to update each component of the Index. Fortunately, three Northwestern second-year law students working with me as research assistants have already made substantial contributions to this project:

  • Lauren Diner
  • Doug Lavey
  • Yoon Hoo Lee

I’ve included their bios below, which will soon be added to the Index website.

Lauren, Doug, Yoon, and I drafted the following update.

The Index To Date

The Legal Services Innovation Index launched in August 2017 to describe and measure the state of legal-services delivery innovation. Version 1.0 launched with (1) a Catalog of more than 200 innovations from over 100 law firms of all sizes located in the US, UK, EU, Australia, and Canada and (2) a Law Firm Innovation Index measuring innovation in 260 law firms (the AmLaw Global 100, AmLaw 200, and Canadian 30).

In November 2017, we launched a prototype Law School Innovation Index and added 17 innovations in version 1.01 of the Catalog. Law firms had previously submitted each of these innovations via the submission form on the Catalog page.

Our mission is to measure and assessing innovation, thereby helping legal industry consumers and product and services providers better understand the legal innovation landscape and inform their decisions. Consumers include clients and law students. Providers include lawyers, law firms, alternative legal services providers, and legal technology companies, to name a few.

Our vision is that measurement and assessment of innovation will drive the legal industry forward, thereby increasing access to legal services and justice for all. Our mission and vision respond to the call to action by Jim Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation, that we most move from measuring revenue and profit to measuring technology adoption. (More about this on the Index Overview page.)

Interest in the Index and feedback received exceeded our highest expectations. Users saw the potential for the Index to become a key hub of information within a rapidly changing legal ecosystem.

Upcoming Index Updates

Where do we go from here? We are focused on the following goals in the near term:

  1. Updating the Catalog of law firm innovations. We plan to release version 1.02 of the Catalog by the end of October.
  2. Encouraging law firms and their collaborating partners to submit innovations for addition to the Catalog via a form available via a button at the bottom of the Catalog page.
  3. Beginning later in October, encouraging law schools to submit information for updates to the prototype Law School Innovation Index, which we plan to begin updating later this year.

Catalog of Law Firm Innovations Update Methodology

Version 1.02 of the Catalog of law firm innovations will include all innovation submissions received by October 19. Before adding an innovation to the Catalog, we will verify the information, including its categorization by practice area and discipline driving the innovation.

Additionally, we continue to review various public resources, such as The Financial Times, Legal Week, The Recorder, and Business Wire. We have also conducted uniform Google searches to locate law firm innovations.

When we find reference to a law firm innovation, we confirm that it appears on the law firm’s website before adding it to the Catalog. Limiting the innovations in the Catalog to those identified on law firm websites enables us to confirm the details, including that the innovation is currently offered to clients.

Once an innovation has been identified, we categorize and record each innovation across various factors, including: type of tool, area of law involved, and relationship (internal to the firm, a partnership, etc.). This allows users to analyze the data from a number of perspectives.

Law Firms: Submit Your Innovations by October 19

Law firms and their collaborating partners can help us by submitting information about their innovations by using the form available via a button at the bottom of the Catalog pageAll submissions received by October 19 will be verified and added to the Catalog.

Who are we?

We are a team led by Dan Linna, Visiting Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. The student team brings with them a diversity of backgrounds and interest areas including psychology, education, and public policy.

Lauren Diner

Lauren Diner

Lauren completed her undergraduate degree in psychology and elementary education in 2015. She then worked in an elementary school before earning her Master’s degree in Bioethics from New York University. Over the summer, she completed the Institute for the Future of Law Practice bootcamp and interned with Neota Logic. She will graduate from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in May 2020. Lauren will join Allen & Overy’s New York office as a summer associate in 2019.

Lauren’s LinkedIn home page

Lauren’s Twitter home page


Doug Lavey

Doug Lavey

Doug plans to focus on the intersection of disruptive technologies, public policy, and the law. After completing his undergraduate degree, he worked as a consultant, implementing enterprise systems at large public institutions. He is currently pursuing a concurrent Master’s in Public Policy degree in addition to his JD. Doug will graduate from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the Harvard Kennedy School in May 2020. Doug will join Perkins Coie’s Chicago office as a summer associate in 2019.

Doug’s LinkedIn home page

Doug’s Twitter home page

Yoon Hoo Lee

Yoon Hoo Lee

Yoon plans to use her teaching background together with her interest in process improvement and technology to better serve clients. After completing her undergraduate degree in Plan II Honors and Latin at the University of Texas at Austin, she worked as a middle school Latin teacher at her alma mater. She will graduate from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in May 2020. Yoon will join Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ Dallas office as a summer associate in 2019.

Yoon’s LinkedIn home page

Yoon’s Twitter home page

Algorithms have a substantial impact on everything happening around us. Most everyone would agree that the impact of algorithms, computational technologies, and artificial intelligence on everyday life, institutions, and society will only grow, and rapidly. Yet most law students and lawyers lack the foundational knowledge to generally explain how these technologies work, much less assess them.

One way to address this is to teach law students about artificial intelligence and computational technologies. I’m teaching several courses in this arena at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law this year, beginning with “Artificial Intelligence and Legal Reasoning” this fall.

Each class meeting includes discussion about the effectiveness of these technologies, in the proper context of the status quo, and related ethical questions. Additionally, we will spend two full class meetings discussing technical assessment (recall, precision, F1 score, etc.) and broader questions about the use of algorithms, computational technologies, and artificial intelligence in legal-services delivery and society (transparency, explainability, auditability, provenance, bias, fairness, etc.).

I had the opportunity to introduce these topics during multiple talks this summer, beginning with “Demystifying and Assessing Artificial Intelligence” at the launch of the LawAhead Hub think tank at IE Law School in Madrid. The event attracted a variety of leaders, primarily from international law firms and the legal departments of major corporations.

Continue Reading Training Lawyers to Assess Artificial Intelligence and Computational Technologies