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On this page you can find details on some of the Centre’s current projects.


  • A&O Shearman Collaboration

    The research partnership between the Legal Innovation Centre and A&O Shearman represents 8 years of R&D collaboration. The Legal Innovation Centre acts as a Centre of Excellence promoting research innovation in legal services provision and access to justice.

    • Embedded research — working directly with lawyers to deliver better solutions
    • Horizon scanning and thought leadership
    • Evaluating and adopting next-generation technology
    • Future-proofing A&O Shearman

    Research Strategy Panel

    The role of the Research Strategy Panel includes:

    • Research project ideation
    • Ongoing development of the AOS–UU Research & Development plan
    • Ensuring that research projects reflect A&O Shearman’s micro and macro business environment goals and needs
    • Tracking delivery of research goals

    Horizon Scanning & AI Strategy Planning

    Ulster University and the A&O Shearman Data Science Team are engaged in a Thought Leadership programme for new developments in the AI and technology landscape. This programme works on the ongoing identification, explanation, and assessment of emergent technologies:

    • What is this technology and what are its most recent developments?
    • How could this technology be applied to the different business processes within A&O Shearman?
    • What opportunities does this technology present for A&O Shearman?
    • What are the challenges and risks in realising these opportunities?
    • How is research activity in this technology changing?
    • What impact will this research have within industry in the coming months/years?

    The outcomes of this programme include:

    • Regular contributions to the DS & AI channel
    • Regular opinion pieces on the A&O Shearman intranet portal
    • Articles in external legal and legal-tech industry publications and sites
    • Regular A&O Shearman-branded blog posts on the Legal innovation Centre blog site
    • Future Disputes Group Advice & Planning
    • Cyber Security Team Updates

    The Team

    Dr Niall McCarroll is a Senior Research Fellow at Ulster University’s Intelligent Systems Research Centre and is the Director of the Legal Innovation Centre. Launched in 2016, the Legal Innovation Centre provides education and training to equip law students and legal professionals with the tools to become active innovators in the legal service market, as well as engaging in collaborative research and development for industry clients, the public sector, and the academic community, to explore how innovation can improve legal service delivery and access to justice. Niall’s ongoing applied research work includes a seven-year collaboration with Allen & Overy (now A&O Shearman). Working alongside an experienced Data Science team, Niall focuses on the application of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and state-of-the-art Machine Learning techniques to achieve more efficient ways of consuming unstructured legal text data for the automation of contract review, document processing, and legal analysis.

    Dr Sujata Rani is a Research Associate at Ulster University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems. As a researcher, Sujata has over 7 years’ experience in the NLP domain. She has worked on sentiment analysis, deepfake media identification, and hate speech detection. Prior to joining Ulster University, Sujata was working as a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, India. She has been instrumental in guiding several undergraduate and masters NLP projects. Sujata’s research focuses on applying NLP techniques to multimodal data in different domains to gain useful insights in information retrieval. She also has hands-on experience in applying NLP techniques within the legal domain. Sujata’s research work over the past years has resulted in a number of quality publications in high-indexed SCI/SCIE/SSCI journals and presentations at international conferences.

  • Lawboratory

    Where law meets tech meets art

    The Lawboratory Project explores a participatory approach to public legal education, raising awareness of cutting-edge legal research and generating law-related research by virtue of the learning yielded by extensive experimental public interactions. By this approach it aims to generate greater impact of research, innovation in research methodologies and new forms of research outputs.

    Law, legal frameworks and regulations touch our lives in a million visible and invisible ways. While most of us accept they exist and will engage when necessary, most of us know little about them. Lawboratory will communicate, celebrate and challenge how people think about law.  Engaging exhibits will be co-produced by creative practitioners, designers and legal scholars through iterative processes.

    The exhibits will be open to the public, either for general or targeted audiences. This outreach will broaden the impact of legal scholarship and widen public engagement with law.

    Lawboratory rests on the following principles:

    Innovation — a playful, experimental, celebratory approach to public legal education, disseminating legal scholarship and generating novel research (in terms of theme and form) is innovative. Lawboratory aims to turn facts into learning, feelings and action.

    Participation — Lawboratory will involve visitors in curated exhibits, offering them information or perspectives that engage their attention and emotions in an entertaining and captivating way.  Trained mediators with appropriate expertise will assist the visitors to engage with the exhibit. The visitor may also become a consenting contributor of data to a research study related to the exhibit or another area of law.

    Visitors’ reactions to the exhibit inspire or trigger further relevance to the exhibit for the researcher. As demonstrated by Michael John Gorman’s ‘Ideas Colliders’ exhibited at Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery in Dublin (and now replicated elsewhere), artistic collaboration with scientific research created exhibits to engage the public and collide yet more ideas:

    ‘Ideas Colliders – places to connect emerging research with the public, drawing the insights and concerns of the public into research, and through this process, transforming the role and relevance of the university itself.’
    (MJ Gorman, Ideas Colliders, p152)

    Lawboratory will do this for law.

    For all – Lawboratory is essentially audience-centred with no limit at whom it is aimed. Some exhibits may be targeted at a specific sector of the community, while others will be for all.

    Inspiration here is taken from Nina Simon’s OF/BY/FOR ALL approach to helping public institutions become more inclusive, equitable, and relevant to their communities.

    Law – the overarching subject area is law which inevitably covers a vast array of possible themes, topics, angles, connections. Led by researchers’ interests, each exhibit will highlight an area of law of significance and relevance.

    Impact – so much legal scholarship stays within the academy and the legal profession, yet so much of it has personal, societal and national significance. Lawboratory will aerate legal scholarship through playful and participatory exhibits to reach a broader audience.

    The Team

    Prof Eugene McNamee — Executive Director and founder-member of the Ulster Legal Innovation Centre, a Centre of collaboration between the Law School and the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems. With interests in legal education, technology as an anthropological process, information flow processes in complex communicative systems and Law & Film, his vision for Lawboratory combines these interests to evolve a culturally significant entity bridging the divide between creative and legal practice.

    Dr Lucy Royal-Dawson — Research Associate on the Lawboratory Project. With a background in social justice and human rights research, rights-based and participatory methods and the curation of cinematic events, she manages the development of the project and steers its public legal education research objectives.

  • Safe City Project

    Postgraduate researcher Mythri Mysuru Prabhakar is conducting a socio-technical examination of The Safe City Project, a first-of-its-kind predictive policing intervention implemented in Bengaluru. The Safe City Project leverages artificial intelligence (AI) for real-time biometric identification to monitor, detect, and prevent crimes against women in the city.

    To study the integration of AI within the criminal justice system in India, Mythri is using a combination of institutional ethnography and a socio-technical audit tool designed for the Indian legal context, with a focus on the constitutional principles of equality before the law and equal protection of the law.