Reflections on my journey in using Information Technology to support Legal Decision Making—from Legal Positivism to Legal Realism
journal contributionposted on 2021-02-11, 05:16 authored by John ZeleznikowJohn Zeleznikow
In this paper I discuss my transition from legal positivism to legal realism and how this has impacted upon my construction of legal decision support systems. As a child living with parents who were heavily engaged in politics, and who had disastrous experiences with the twin evils of fascism and communism, I was encouraged to become a scientist. But my interest was always in law and politics. Constructing legal decision support systems was a pragmatic balance between my skills and interests. So I began constructing rule-based systems. But gradually I became aware of the discretionary nature of legal decision making and the need to model legal realism. Through the use of machine learning I have been able to develop useful systems modelling discretion. The advent of the world wide web has allowed the wider community to become more aware of legal decision making. It has fostered the concept of online dispute resolution and provided tools for self-represented litigants. Most importantly, we have become aware that the major impediment to the use of technology in law is not the lack of adequate software. Rather it is the failure of the legal profession to address user centric issues.