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Article

Access_open Text-mining for Lawyers: How Machine Learning Techniques Can Advance our Understanding of Legal Discourse

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords text mining, machine learning, law, natural language processing
Authors Arthur Dyevre
AbstractAuthor's information

    Many questions facing legal scholars and practitioners can be answered only by analysing and interrogating large collections of legal documents: statutes, treaties, judicial decisions and law review articles. I survey a range of novel techniques in machine learning and natural language processing – including topic modelling, word embeddings and transfer learning – that can be applied to the large-scale investigation of legal texts


Arthur Dyevre
Arthur Dyevre is Professor at the KU Leuven Centre for Empirical Jurisprudence, Leuven, Belgium. arthur.dyevre@kuleuven.be.
Article

Access_open Teaching Technology to (Future) Lawyers

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords legal education, law and technology, legal analytics, technology education, technological literacy
Authors Mikołaj Barczentewicz
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article offers a reflection on how applications of computer technology (including data analytics) are and may be taught to (future) lawyers and what are the benefits and limitations of the different approaches. There is a growing sense among legal professionals and law teachers that the technological changes in the practice of law are likely to promote the kind of knowledge and skills that law graduates often do not possess today. Teaching computer technology can be done in various ways and at various depths, and those different ways and levels have different cost and benefit considerations. The article discusses four models of teaching technology: (1) teaching basic technological literacy, (2) more advanced but general technology teaching, (3) teaching computer programming and quantitative methods and (4) teaching a particular aspect of technology – other than programming (e.g. cybersecurity). I suggest that there are strong reasons for all current and future lawyers to acquire proficiency in effective uses of office and legal research software and standard means of online communication and basic cybersecurity. This can be combined with teaching of numerical and informational literacy. I also claim that advanced technology topics, like computer programming, should be taught only to the extent that this is justified by the direct need for such skills and knowledge in students’ future careers, which I predict to be true for only a minority of current lawyers and law students.


Mikołaj Barczentewicz
Mikołaj Barczentewicz is the Research Director, Surrey Law and Technology Hub, as well as Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Law, University of Surrey School of Law. He is also a Research Associate of the University of Oxford Centre for Technology and Global Affairs.
Editorial

Access_open Computational Methods for Legal Analysis

The Way Forward?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords computational legal analysis, empirical legal studies, natural language processing, machine learning
Authors Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko
AbstractAuthor's information

    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


Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko
Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko is Professor of Quantitative Empirical Legal Studies at the Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Too Immature to Vote?

A Philosophical and Psychological Argument to Lower the Voting Age

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2020
Keywords voting age, children’s rights, youth enfranchisement, democracy, votes at 16
Authors Tommy Peto
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article argues in favour of lowering the voting age to 16. First, it outlines a respect-based account of democracy where the right to vote is grounded in a respect for citizens’ autonomous capacities. It then outlines a normative account of autonomy, modelled on Rawls’s two moral powers, saying what criteria must be met for an individual to possess a (pro tanto) moral right to vote. Second, it engages with empirical psychology to show that by the age of 16 (if not earlier) individuals have developed all of the cognitive components of autonomy. Therefore, since 16- and 17-year-olds (and quite probably those a little younger) possess the natural features required for autonomy, then, to the extent that respect for autonomy requires granting political rights including the right to vote – and barring some special circumstances that apply only to them – 16- and 17-year-olds should be granted the right to vote.


Tommy Peto
University of Oxford.
Article

Access_open Text and Data Mining in the EU ‘Acquis Communautaire’ Tinkering with TDM & Digital Legal Deposit

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2019
Keywords Web harvesting, data analysis, text & data mining, TDM, computational text
Authors Maria Bottis, Marinos Papadopoulos, Christos Zampakolas e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Text and Data Mining (hereinafter, TDM) issue for the purpose of scientific research or for any other purpose which is included in the provisions of the new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (hereinafter, DSM). TDM is a term that includes Web harvesting and Web Archiving activities. Web harvesting and archiving pertains to the processes of collecting from the web and archiving of works that reside on the Web. In the following analysis we will elaborate briefly upon provisions in EU Copyright law which were discussed during the proposal for a new Directive on Copyright in the DSM as well as provisions which are included in the text of art.3 and art.4 of the new Directive 2019/790/EU per TDM. In addition, the following analysis presents legislation in very few EU Member States which pertains to TDM and preceded the rulings of Directive 2019/790/EU. Digital legal deposit remarkable examples from EU Member States are also presented in this paper. The example of Australia is also presented below hereto because it is one of the oldest and most successful worldwide. The National Library of Australia’s digital legal deposit is state-of-the-art.


Maria Bottis
Associate Professor, Department of Archives, Library Science and Museology, Ionian University, Corfu, Greece.

Marinos Papadopoulos
Attorney-at-Law, PhD, MSc, JD, Independent Researcher, Athens, Greece.

Christos Zampakolas
Archivist/Librarian, PhD, MA, BA, Independent Researcher, Ioannina, Greece.

Paraskevi Ganatsiou
Educator, MA, BA, Coordinator of Educational Projects in the Prefecture of Ionian Islands, Corfu, Greece.
Article

Access_open Consumer Social Responsibility in Dutch Law

A Case Study on the Role of Consumers in Energy Transition

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords consumer, energy transition, social responsibility, Dutch law, EU law
Authors Katalin Cseres
AbstractAuthor's information

    As our economies continue to focus on growth, competition and maximisation of consumer choice, the global increase in consumption takes vast environmental and social costs and cause irreversible harm to our climate and environment. The urgency of reducing human footprint and to diminish one of the root causes of a declining climate and environment is irrefutable. In the shift that globally has to take place, a decentralised energy system relying on more distributed generation, energy storage and a more active involvement of consumers form a crucial component of renewable energy solutions. The move from a highly centralised to a more decentralised power system involves an increasing amount of small-scale (intermittent) generation from renewable energy which is located closer to the point of final consumption. In order to steer consumption towards sustainability national governments and supranational organisations have adopted policies and corresponding legislation that address individual consumers as rational and active choice-makers who make socially responsible choices when they receive the ‘right’ amount of information. By relying on insights from modern consumption theories with contributions from sociology, this article questions the effectiveness and legitimacy of these ‘consumer-centred’ policies and laws. First, the article argues that the single focus on individual consumer behaviour as a rational and utility maximising market actor fails to take into account the complexity of consumption, which is fundamentally influenced by social norms and its broader institutional setting. Although consumers are willing to consume more sustainably, they are often ‘locked in by circumstances’ and unable to engage in more sustainable consumption practices even if they want to. Second, by relying on evidence from sociological studies the article argues that individual consumers are not the most salient actors in support of sustainable consumption. Even though the urgency of the energy transition and the critical role consumers play in (un)sustainable energy consumption is acknowledged in both the EU and its Member States, their laws and policies remain grounded on goals of economic growth with competitive economies, the sovereignty of consumer choice and wealth maximisation, instead of aiming at slower economic growth or even degrowth, reducing overall resource use and consumption levels and introducing radically different ways of consumption.
    Third, the role of law is underlined as a social institution both as a constraint on the autonomous acts of consumption, dictating the normative frameworks within which the role of consumer is defined, and as a facilitator which consumers might also employ, in order to determine for themselves particular normative parameters within which consumption can occur.
    The Netherlands, which serves as a case study in this article, has reached important milestones in its energy transition policy since 2013. Still, it remains strongly focused on economic rationality and market competitiveness. Even though various models of consumer participation exist and local consumer energy initiatives are flourishing and are recognised as key actors in the energy transition, they remain embedded in institutional, structural and behavioural settings where consumers still face challenging sociocultural barriers to sustainable practices.
    In light of these legal, political and social complexity of energy transition, the article offers a critical analysis of the current Dutch law in its broader legal context of EU law in order to answer the question what the role of (energy) law is in steering consumers towards sustainable energy consumption.


Katalin Cseres
Katalin Cseres is Associate Professor of Law, Amsterdam Centre for European Law & Governance (ACELG), University of Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open Matchmaking International Commercial Courts and Lawyers’ Preferences in Europe

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2019
Keywords choice of court, commercial court, lawyers’ preferences, survey on lawyers, international court
Authors Erlis Themeli
AbstractAuthor's information

    France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands have taken concrete steps to design and develop international commercial courts. Most of the projects claim to be building courts that match the preferences of court users. They also try to challenge England and Wales, which evidence suggests is the most attractive jurisdiction in the EU. For the success of these projects, it is important that their proposed courts corresponds with the expectations of the parties, but also manages to attract some of the litigants that go to London. This article argues that lawyers are the most important group of choice makers, and that their preferences are not sufficiently matched by the new courts. Lawyers have certain litigation service and court perception preferences. And while the new courts improve their litigation service, they do not sufficiently addressed these court perception preferences.


Erlis Themeli
Postdoc, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Privatising Law Enforcement in Social Networks: A Comparative Model Analysis

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2018
Keywords user generated content, public and private responsibilities, intermediary liability, hate speech and fake news, protection of fundamental rights
Authors Katharina Kaesling
AbstractAuthor's information

    These days, it appears to be common ground that what is illegal and punishable offline must also be treated as such in online formats. However, the enforcement of laws in the field of hate speech and fake news in social networks faces a number of challenges. Public policy makers increasingly rely on the regu-lation of user generated online content through private entities, i.e. through social networks as intermediaries. With this privat-ization of law enforcement, state actors hand the delicate bal-ancing of (fundamental) rights concerned off to private entities. Different strategies complementing traditional law enforcement mechanisms in Europe will be juxtaposed and analysed with particular regard to their respective incentive structures and consequential dangers for the exercise of fundamental rights. Propositions for a recommendable model honouring both pri-vate and public responsibilities will be presented.


Katharina Kaesling
Katharina Kaesling, LL.M. Eur., is research coordinator at the Center for Advanced Study ‘Law as Culture’, University of Bonn.
Article

Access_open The Right to Mental Health in the Digital Era

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2016
Keywords E-health, e-mental health, right to health, right to mental health
Authors Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj
AbstractAuthor's information

    People with mental illness usually experience higher rates of disability and mortality. Often, health care systems do not adequately respond to the burden of mental disorders worldwide. The number of health care providers dealing with mental health care is insufficient in many countries. Equal access to necessary health services should be granted to mentally ill people without any discrimination. E-mental health is expected to enhance the quality of care as well as accessibility, availability and affordability of services. This paper examines under what conditions e-mental health can contribute to realising the right to health by using the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality (AAAQ) framework that is developed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Research shows e-mental health facilitates dissemination of information, remote consultation and patient monitoring and might increase access to mental health care. Furthermore, patient participation might increase, and stigma and discrimination might be reduced by the use of e-mental health. However, e-mental health might not increase the access to health care for everyone, such as the digitally illiterate or those who do not have access to the Internet. The affordability of this service, when it is not covered by insurance, can be a barrier to access to this service. In addition, not all e-mental health services are acceptable and of good quality. Policy makers should adopt new legal policies to respond to the present and future developments of modern technologies in health, as well as e-Mental health. To analyse the impact of e-mental health on the right to health, additional research is necessary.


Fatemeh Kokabisaghi
Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj are Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. All authors contributed equally.

Iris Bakx
Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj are Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. All authors contributed equally.

Blerta Zenelaj
Fatemeh Kokabisaghi, Iris Bakx and Blerta Zenelaj are Ph.D. candidates at the Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. All authors contributed equally.

    The paper offers a legal theoretical analysis of the disciplinary character of the contemporary practice of legal scholarship. It is assumed that the challenges of interdisciplinary engagement are particularly revealing about the nature of legal scholarship. The paper argues for an understanding of legal scholarship that revolves around cultivating doctrinal knowledge about law. Legal scholarship is characterised as a normative and interpretive discipline that offers an internalist and non-instrumentalist perspective on law. The paper also argues that interdisciplinary engagement is sometimes necessary for legal scholars because some concepts and ideas built into the doctrinal structures of law cannot be made fully intelligible by way of pure normative legal analysis. This point is developed with the help of an epistemological clarification of doctrinal knowledge and anchored in an account of the practice of legal scholarship. The paper explores the implications of this account by way of analysing three paradigms of interdisciplinary engagement that respond to distinctive challenges facing legal scholarship: (1) understanding better the extra-legal origins of legal ideas, (2) managing discursive encounters that can generate frictions between disciplinary perspectives, and (3) building the knowledge base to handle challenge of validating policy initiatives that aim at changing the law. In different ways, all three challenges may require legal scholars to build competence in other disciplines. The third paradigm has particular relevance for understanding the methodological profile of legal scholarship. Legal scholarship is the only discipline with specific focus on how the social environment affects the doctrinal structures of law.


Matyas Bodig
Dr Matyas Bodig is Senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen School of Law, Aberdeen, UK.

    The article takes as its point of departure some of the author’s multidisciplinary projects. Special attention is given to the question of whether the disciplines united in the various research team members already constituted a kind of ‘inter-discipline’, through which a single object was studied. The issue of how the disciplinary orientations of the research team members occasionally clashed, on methodological issues, is also addressed.
    The outcomes of these and similar multidisciplinary research projects are followed back into legal practice and academic legal scholarship to uncover whether an incorporation problem indeed exists. Here, special attention will be given to policy recommendations and notably proposals for new legislation. After all, according to Van Dijck et al., the typical role model for legal researchers working from an internal perspective on the law is the legislator.
    The author concludes by making a somewhat bold case for reverse incorporation, that is, the need for (traditional) academic legal research to become an integral part of a more encompassing (inter-)discipline, referred to here as ‘conflict management studies’. Key factors that will contribute to the rise of such a broad (inter-)discipline are the changes that currently permeate legal practice (the target audience of traditional legal research) and the changes in the overall financing of academic research itself (with special reference to the Netherlands).


Annie de Roo
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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