University of Pittsburgh

Artificial Intelligence and Legal Reasoning Seminar

Abbreviated Title:
Catalog Number: 5895
3.0 Credits
Priority: Seminar - 3rd Year Priority
Catalog Requirements: Upper-Level Writing, "W" Writing.

Researchers in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and law attempt to design computer programs that can perform legal reasoning or that can solve, or assist attorneys in solving legal problems. The researchers ask tough questions, such as, can one state precisely what a legal rule means and decide whether it applies to a situation? How can one separate “hard” from “easy” legal issues? What roles do cases and values play in interpreting a legal rule? Their answers, however, are not philosophical but scientific; they design computer programs that model the tasks and they conduct experiments to evaluate how well the program performs. The seminar also introduces students to new technologies for legal information retrieval and e-discovery.

The seminar will involve law students and graduate students from other disciplines. No familiarity with computer programming is required. The seminar goals are to introduce the fundamentals of AI to law students and of legal reasoning to graduate students and jointly to grapple with the work of researchers who have built AI programs for the legal domain. Law students will more fully appreciate the techniques and assumptions employed by attorneys, and by AI and law researchers, to deal with the uncertainties inherent in legal reasoning. Readings will consist of excerpts from comprehensible research papers. Students will be asked to prepare short summaries (1-2 pages) of readings and a seminar paper.

In lieu of a seminar paper, students with approval of the instructor may design and build an AI program for a legal application using new tools that do not require programming experience. (Such a program will not satisfy the legal writing requirement.)

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