New NSF Award: Using AI to Increase Fairness by Improving Access to Justice

Dr. Diane Litman (Professor, CS) together with Dr. Kevin Ashley (Professor, School of Law) just received a new award from the National Science Foundation (through the Fairness in Artificial Intelligence program), entitled Using AI to Increase Fairness by Improving Access to Justice. Both of them also hold Senior Scientist appointments at the Learning Research and Development Center. Their project applies Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase social fairness by improving public access to justice. Although many AI tools are already available to law firms and legal departments, these tools do not typically reach members of the public and legal service practitioners except through expensive commercial paywalls.

The research team will develop two tools to make legal sources more understandable: Statutory Term Interpretation Support (STATIS) and Case Argument Summarization (CASUM).

  • STATIS is an AI-based legal information retrieval tool to help users understand and interpret statutory terms. It helps them find sentences explicating the terms of interest and cases applying these terms. Inputs to the system are queries about a statutory term and the provision from which it comes. The system outputs a list of sentences retrieved from case law that mention the term in a manner useful for understanding and elaborating its meaning.
  • CASUM summarizes case decisions in terms of legal argument triples: the major issues a court addressed in the case, the court's conclusion with respect to each issue, and the court's reasons for reaching the conclusion. Given a case text, it outputs simple argument diagrams graphically summarizing arguments in the decision. Ultimately, the tools will be deployed through legal information institutes (LIIs) that provide free access to the public. They will help the lay public to understand, as well as to access, legal source materials by making it easy for them to find sentences in legal cases that provide definitions, tests, examples, or counterexamples of statutory terms and to see the issues, conclusions, and reasons a court addresses in a decision.

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