Computational Methods for Legal Analysis: The Way Forward?

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Abstract

Computational analysis can be seen as the most recent innovation in the field of Empirical Legal Studies (ELS). It concerns the use of computer science and big data tools to collect, analyse and understand the large and unstructured data, such as for instance (legal) text. Given that the text is now the object of analysis, but the methods are (largely) quantitative, it lies in the intersection between doctrinal analysis and ELS. It brings with it not only a great potential to scale up research and answer old research questions, but also to reveal uncovered patterns and address new questions. Despite a slowly growing number of legal scholars who are already applying such methods, it is underutilised in the field of law. Furthermore, given that this method comes from social and computer sciences, many legal scholars are not even aware of its existence and potential. Therefore, the purpose of this special issue is not only to introduce these methods to lawyers and discuss possibilities of their application, but also to pay special attention to the challenges, with a specific emphasis on the ethical issues arising from using ‘big data’ and the challenge of building capacity to use such methods in law schools. This editorial briefly explains some of the methods which belong to the new movement of Computational Legal Analysis and provides examples of their application. It then introduces those articles included in this special issue. Finally, it provides a personal note on the way forward for lawyers within the movement of Computational Legal Analysis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalErasmus Law Review
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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