CodeX and the Future of Legal Tech
CodeX – the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics is led by its Executive Director Dr. Roland Vogl, a dynamic tech lawyer, entrepreneur, guide and a game changer in the field of automation of legal technology. Through his work Dr. Vogl has inspired many students, lawyers and technologists to pursue their passion and become legal entrepreneurs.
William H. Neukom Building, Stanford Law School Photography: Aislinn Weidele
CodeX was founded in 2006 when Stanford Computer Science Professor Michael Genesereth, Dr. Vogl and a group of like-minded researchers met for a workshop to brainstorm about ways to best advance research in legal technology. During that session the idea for the creation of a center dedicated to the research of technology aimed at improving the efficiency of the legal system was born. Prof. Genesereth had previously dabbled in the legal AI field. He saw new opportunities in the application of advanced information technology in legal settings because of the Internet, the increased availability of legally relevant data, and new techniques to express legal concepts and rules in computable form. The group decided on “CodeX” as a name for the center that would best encapsulate the focus of the center on the intersection of legal and computer code.
CodeX aspires to promote research into information technologies that improve our legal system. It focuses on the field computational law. Computational law is the branch of legal informatics concerned with the automation and mechanization of legal analysis. To that end, it leverages rule-based (i.e., deductive) as well as statistical (i.e., inductive) AI-techniques (e.g., machine learning and Natural Language Processing). CodeX has also become a catalyst for stimulating entrepreneurial energy around legal innovation. It is a lively innovation hub where forward-looking scholars, students, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, product designers, and policy makers work together to design technologies for a better legal system.
Legal tech projects generally fall within one of three broad categories. First, legal document management, which involves creating, storing, and retrieving legal documents of all types—statutes, case law, patents, and regulations. Second, legal Infrastructure, which refers to systems that allow stakeholders in the legal system to connect and collaborate more efficiently, streamlining the interactions of individuals, organizations, legal professionals, and government as they acquire and deliver legal services. Finally, the above already mentioned area of computational law, which really is at the focus of CodeX’s research. We believe that legal technology based on computational law has the potential to dramatically impact the legal profession, improving the quality and efficiency of legal services, and changing the way the legal system operates.
CodeX affiliates have authored seminal research papers on numerous important topics on the forefront of legal technology. In addition to its research publications, CodeX also created Corpus Legis, an online library of governmental regulations encoded in computable form. CodeX also carries our several research projects. For example, the Stanford Computable Contracts Initiative is focused on developing technology that can help move the world from natural language-based contracts toward a world of computable contacts. Another project is the Stanford Veterans Benefits Project. Here, the research was focused on creating a system for the Department of Veteran's Affairs that determines veterans’ eligibility for disability and death benefits and other assistance for veterans and their survivors. For this project, CodeX researchers created a computational representation of these Veteran benefits regulations and developing software tools capable of applying these rules to actual benefits claims.
Many of CodeX’s research projects ultimately found their way into the marketplace. For example, Lex Machina started as research project of Stanford Law School faculty member Prof. Mark Lemley. It was later spun off from Stanford as a company that became known as a trailblazer in the big data law space. In 2015, it was acquired by Lexis Nexis. SIPX was a CodeX research project, which was spun off from the university and which was later acquired by Proquest. The SIPX system allows users to track and manage their copyright licenses. CodeX most recent spin-off is Symbium. Symbium uses the “worksheets” platform developed Stanford’s AI Lab and CodeX. The company’s overall goal is to bring actionable regulations directly to point of human experience. The Symbium system makes is possible for users who are domain experts with no programming skills to develop computational law applications that encapsulate complex regulations in a very quick manner. The system supports dynamic, multi-channeled interactions and workflows and enables a completely customizable UI. For example, in collaboration with San Francisco, Symbium has developed a constituent-facing solution that streamlines how small business owners open businesses in San Francisco — from understanding permitting issues to calculating fees. Several other leading legal tech companies were started by CodeX affiliates, such as the legal analytics and research companies Ravel (acquired by Lexis Nexis in 2017) and Casetext, and the legal collaboration platform https://www.legal.io.
CodeX tracks early stage legal tech companies through its CodeX Tech index , a database that currently counts almost 1,100 early stage companies from around the world. The center directors and affiliates also teach a class in legal informatics, and pop-up classes such as the Exponential Innovation, AI, and Law Bootcamp and Startup Bootcamp for lawyers. Startup Bootcamp gives lawyers a crash course on the skills needed to build a startup in order to transition from a lawyer to entrepreneur.
The annual CodeX FutureLaw conference has become the go-to event for anyone interested in the technology-driven transformation of our legal system. Since its inaugural convening in 2013, FutureLaw has brought together the leading academics, entrepreneurs, lawyers, investors, policy makers, and shaping the discourse on legal innovation. During the last FutureLaw conference in April 2018, the panelists discussed a broad range of topics from fairness, accountability and transparency in algorithms to blockchain governance issues. ABA President Hilarie Bass opened the conference with an inspiring keynote titled Partners in Law: Breaking Down Silos Between Law, Technology and Innovation. Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode closed the conference with thought-provoking keynote titled Access to Justice and Legal Services for Routine Needs. The conference videos can be viewed in the CodeX Youtube playlist here.
CodeX has become an intellectual home for the legal innovation community. People can join the community to present new ideas, get feedback, and connect with others who can help them make progress with their ideas. The Center conducts workshops, hosts panelists and conducts weekly sessions where legal tech entrepreneurs or academics share their ideas. CodeX also recently launched its Blockchain Group, which recently launched a journal on blockchain law and policy. CodeX also has a very active blog covering the legal innovation space.
At CodeX, we are convinced that the legal system will be better, more efficient and fairer because of the tools provided by technology. We’re excited about a future with a truly tech-enabled legal system.
CodeX Tech Index, https://techindex.law.stanford.edu/
About the Author Riyanka Roy Choudhury is a lawyer and currently a CodeX fellow at Stanford Law School. She specialized in Law & Technology and Business Laws at UC Berkeley. Given her exceptional contribution in pro bono work,
Riyanka received a gold cord and a special notation from her Dean at the Commencement program during her graduation at Berkeley law. At Boalt Hall, she was an Associate Editor of Berkeley Technology Law Journal and her research covered artificial intelligence related policy issues where she analysed the application of blockchain in copyright licensing. As a practicum associate at Berkeley Law New Business Counseling Practicum, she counseled and drafted legal agreements for several start-ups who cannot afford legal services. She also conducted training workshops and provided IP strategies to her Silicon Valley clients. At CodeX, she analysed feasibility of worksheets, developed at Stanford, to make accessory dwelling units’ regulations more comprehensible and navigable. She is developing a predictive analytics tool as part of Coding for lawyers as part of a course at Stanford Law School. She is also working on privacy of legal assistants at Center of Internet and Society along with developing IP chat bots. She is an advisor at Simple Rights, US and advises legal tech startups globally.
Riyanka worked as a Legislative Researcher at the office of Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in India. As part of core team and in her policy framework experience in ‘Mission Antyodaya’ project, team of interns under her leadership found solutions to India’s socio-economic problems by inter linking various schemes and policies with one another. The book has been compiled and presented to the Prime Minister of India in 2018.
Riyanka holds an integrated dual degree in Bachelors in Business Administration (Management Honors.) and Legum Baccalaureus (JD) from National Law University Odisha, Cuttack, India.
Executive Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology Dr. Roland Vogl is a lawyer, scholar and media entrepreneur who, after nearly fifteen years of professional and academic experience, has developed a strong expertise in intellectual property and media law, innovation, and legal informatics. Currently, he is Executive Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology (LST) and a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School. He focuses his efforts on legal informatics work carried out at CodeX, which he co-founded and leads as Executive Director. Also, he researches international technology law through the Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (TTLF), a think-tank dedicated to transatlantic tech law and policy issues. Dr. Vogl initiated and spearheaded the development of the Stanford Intellectual Property Exchange, a Stanford research initiative focused on solving content licensing inefficiencies in higher education. The initiative was spun off from Stanford in Fall of 2012 as a privately held company, SIPX Inc., which was acquired by ProQuest LLC in 2015. Dr. Vogl is a co-founder of SIPX Inc. and served on its Board of Directors.
Dr. Vogl is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna, Austria where he teaches United States intellectual property law; and a Senior Fellow (by courtesy) at the Berkeley Informatics Lab. In addition, Dr. Vogl serves as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Law Technology News, a publication of ALM (American Lawyer Media) and of the Legaltech West Coast Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Boards of AdviseHub, Inc, IPNexus, Inc., LegalForce, Inc., and LiTIQ, Inc.
Previously, he co-founded and served as CFOO of Vator.tv, a next-generation business social media company, leveraging community-generated content to create data services and news. His experience also includes working as the first teaching fellow of Stanford Law School’s international LLM degree program in Law, Science and Technology, as an IP associate at Fenwick & West LLP, as a press associate at the European Parliament and as a law clerk at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Audiovisual Media, Information and Communication.
Vogl holds both a Dr.iur. (JSD) and a Mag.iur. (JD) from Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck, Austria as well as a JSM from Stanford Law School.