Learning How to Engineer Law and Legal Processes the MIT Way

Fall 2017 Future Law MIT Course

2017 Graduate Seminar at the MIT Media Lab: FutureLawMIT.org

Reimagining Rules & Legal Services in light of Novel Technologies & Enabled Code


Course Description:

Students will explore emerging technologies that are disrupting existing law practices and legal services by building new business models, products or technical concepts. They will understand, experience and build the future of law, lawyers, legal services, and societal rules for technologies and methods. Over a handful of weekly first-half (H1) semester class sessions, students will be exposed to key ideas, principles and frameworks from CEOs of leading startups, corporate leaders, and Media Lab instructors who are leading research in the future of computational law, the legal implications of new technologies, the productization of legal services, and more. Throughout the class, participants will benefit from the Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program’s ability to convene diverse students from across campus and around Boston.

Course Themes:

The course will explore how organizations ranging in size from new startups to global giants (and also non-profit organizations) are trying to disrupt the status quo in how the law and legal profession is today. Guest lecturers will reveal how new technologies are creating new areas of opportunity, upsetting established players, transforming existing revenue streams (for both better and worse), and how incumbents are responding to these disruptive innovations.

The course will be explore these top thematic areas:

1. Artificial Intelligence & Productization meets Legal Services:

Role of AI and chatbots in both increasing access and reducing cost of legal services; understanding pushback from the establishment around “unauthorized practice” or resistance by traditional players to adopting new methods; role of affordability in social justice and those traditionally under-served.

2. Future of Blockchain, Code, Computational Law & Legal Analytics:

Legal and policy dimensions of big data and personal data markets and ecologies; Computational social science (CSS) on socio-legal dynamics, enabling tools for policy design, adaptive rule making, dynamic regulatory impact analysis, property right and law enforcement; online experiments, sentiment analysis techniques or agent-based social simulations in the legal world, and more including the infrastructure behind Identity, Security & Privacy.

3. Law of New Technologies & Business Models in Global Context:

Exploring how new inventions and approaches move faster than updates to the legal system; historical examples including Law of the Sea and Space Law, plus domains such as radio frequency allocation, patentability of life, liability of autonomous vehicles, drones, etc.

Weekly Class Structure:

The 90 minute class sessions will be conducted in one of two formats, roughly on an alternating basis throughout the class. Some classes will be held in seminar style, with the first half given as a lecture by a practitioner who is a leader in industry, an innovative start-up, government, foundations, or academia. We will round out the second half with frameworks, group exercises and simulations that reinforce the first-half lecture. Other class sessions will consists of mini-presentations led by student groups. The purpose of these demonstrations will be to allow groups to show early progress on their class projects.

Class Project:

In the first sessions of the class, students will be presented with a selection of topics from which to choose for their project, or to propose their own, and provide an “Idea Pitch”. Students will form multidisciplinary teams around these topics and will thereafter begin receiving guidance from project mentors and course instructors, including meetings among individuals and groups outside of scheduled class time. Students will spend the rest of the class meeting with their group members and interacting with course staff and outside advisors to complete the group project (see deliverables below). Team coaching from the instructors, outside of regular class meeting times, is integral to the pedagogical design of the course.

Expected Student Deliverables:

Students pick one of three project options, all looking more deeply at one of the key subjects or a compelling opportunity:

1. Write a Venture Plan or Strategic Analysis for an entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial venture commercializing a compelling emerging technology opportunity; or

2. Build a Prototype Demonstration of a compelling emergent legal technology or future contract or service enabler; or

3. Craft an Innovation Roadmap identifying big picture of technology and industry trends and analyzing the dominant drivers and inhibitors of innovation and legal transformation.

We encourage students to work in teams of their choosing on either one joint project or with different team members tackling each of the three levels of analysis. We expect serious participation including regular updates, either as presentations or in prose, all adding towards the project which has practical relevance beyond class.

Course Goals:

This survey course is designed to serve as a “tool-kit” for students who want exposure to world-class practitioners working at the leading edge of legal technology and services innovation, with particular emphasis on the digitization, automation, and/or productization of legal services and markets. The course aims to expose students to a wide range of specialty areas within this emerging field. Students will identify sub-areas that fit their interest and have some opportunity to take a deeper dive into the necessary skills, technology, and methods involved.

Course Extension:

Highly motivated students will have the option of participating in an independent study supervised by the course instructors, either during IAP or subsequent semesters, to further develop their venture concept crafted during the class.

Winter 2017 MIT/IAP Computational Law Course


Which part of the Computational Law course are you looking for?

Computational Law Course Description

The 2017 MIT/IAP Computational Law course provides a conceptual overview and hands-on projects for understanding and solving legal use cases with data analytics, blockchain and other cryptosystems and a special module on virtual reality for data vizualization. The course includes seminar style lecture/discussion sessions and hands-on, experiential learning through team projects. The course covers:

  • Legal Analytics, including 1) AI/Machine Learning for solving legal use cases; and 2) Using VR for data-driven visualization of complex financial relationships and legal contexts

    • DataVR Module:  January 23+24, this course features a special two-day module exploring use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for data analytics, we call DataVR.

  • Digital Assets, including: 1) Ownership rights, valuation and provenance of digital property; and 2) Storage and exchange of digital property with electronic contracts, automated transactions and autonomous agents

  • Digital Identity, including: 1) Technology and architecture for autonomy and control of self-sourced digital identity and personal data; and 2) Using individual identity for valid, verifiable login to apps or services and for providing legal acknowledgement, assent or authorization.

  • Digital Contracts, including 1) Business, legal and technical interlinkage of blockchain "smart contracts" and legal contracts in automated individual or business transactions; and 2) Standard open-web stack design patterns for executing multiple digital signatures and electronic notarization on digital legal contracts.

Climate Data Challenge Projects: To learn more about the Sloan team working on VR-enabled climate change projects as part of the DataVR module, check out: http://DataVR.xyz/BITL.html  

Legal Hackathon Data Projects: This course also provides optional opportunities to participate on project teams as part of "Legal Hackathon" style events, including 1) the Cyberlaw Committee of the American Bar Association Cyberlaw Committee "Legal Analytics Prototype Jam" and 2) the Financial Entity Identification and Information Integration (FEIII) "data challenge".   For more information, see: https://github.com/HumanDynamics/Workshops/wiki/Hackathon-and-Other-Challenge-Projects  

Course Details:

  • There are four scheduled session of this course on January 23, 24, 30 and 31 from 2-6pm Eastern.  The first two days (Jan 23+24) are dedicated to the special module on data visualization in VR
  • Limited to 40 in-person participants (online participant cap is not yet decided)
  • There are no specific pre-requisits but we are seeking participants who bring relevant legal, technology and/or relevant business experience or skills. 
  • Apply ASAP, space is limited
  • Request permission of instructors to enroll below: