The Lawyer in Your Computer

Podcast Explores How Lawyers and Scholars Are Using Technology
Michael Livermore

Michael Livermore is an expert on environmental law, administrative law and computational analysis of law. Photo by Ian Bradshaw

May 21, 2019

Lawyers and legal scholars are using technology to enhance and streamline their work, and yield new insights on law, as the latest episode of “Common Law” explores.

On Episode 7, University of Virginia School of Law professor Michael Livermore discusses how technology is affecting legal processes, from discovery to alternative dispute resolution.

Livermore is an expert on environmental law, regulation, bureaucratic oversight and the computational analysis of law. His research uses computational analysis of text to better understand everything from how the Supreme Court’s writing style has changed over time to how to improve the administrative comment process when federal agencies make new rules. He also leads an online workshop on the computational analysis of law.

“The law always shows up as text — that’s what law is,” he said. “What’s happened in the last 15-20 years is that the tools that we have to analyze text have really become much more sophisticated.”

Livermore also talks about predictive analytics, new possibilities for the use of AI in search, technology’s impact on law jobs, and new platforms for small claims court or divorce proceedings.

Such platforms could also help with non-appearance in court, Livermore said — a “huge issue” in the court system, as some people are caught in a cycle of being penalized for not appearing in court, which can spiral into jail time. An app could help people facing low-dollar fines that require court appearances, allowing them to pay or request a waiver for the fines online.

“All of this can be done on the front end and eliminate — or at least severely curtail — this vicious cycle associated with non-appearance,” he said. “Right now it’s done in a physical location, and it doesn’t need to be.”

Hosted by Dean Risa Goluboff and Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick ’06, “Common Law” is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, YouTube, Spotify and other popular places you can listen to podcasts, including Amazon Alexa devices.

You can follow the show on the website commonlawpodcast.com or Twitter at @CommonLawUVA.

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Mary M. Wood
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