Page content

Access to Justice

Our work on access to justice focuses on the way in which technology and innovation in legal service delivery can assist in providing timely, efficient and affordable access to legal advice and assistance.

Most everyday civil justice problems are resolved informally without recourse to the institutions of the justice system such as courts and tribunals.

Legal problems can have a profound and lasting impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of those affected.

Our work in the access to justice space examines the way in which people obtain legal advice and assistance, how they navigate the institutions of justice such as courts and tribunals, and how satisfied they are with the resolution of legal problems.

To this end, our research focuses on the role of digital courts, the impact of legal advice provided through technology, the role the of the internet in promoting an understanding of knowledge of rights, and the way in which technology can facilitate access to justice and improve public understanding of the law.

  • Visual Law & Public Legal Education

    This project is a joint endeavor between the Legal Innovation Centre, the University Law Clinic and students from the School of Art, focused on innovating in the Public Legal Education space.

    Adopting principles of ‘visual law’, this project explores how legal rights responsibilities and processes can be conveyed visually, in order to develop public legal education materials that are engaging, informative, jargon free, and easy to understand.

    This project has produced several videos and posters that are freely available online.

Artificial Intelligence

Propelled by more powerful computers and machines with greater capacity for storage, the last decade has seen an increased interest in the role of AI in law. Our research in AI focuses machine learning (including neural network/deep learning systems), quantitative legal prediction, and expert systems, applied to the practice of law.  In conjunction with leading law firms we undertake industry-led research and development projects.

  • Automated Fact Checking

    Project Lead: Dr Niall McCarroll

    This project explores automated fact checking of legal documents using computational intelligence techniques where the aim is to extract and verify each fact in specific legal texts. Knowledge acquisition rules, based on the linguistic treatment of specific aspects of legal documents is key to improving the results in this task. Additionally, domain knowledge representation can provide an even broader set of possibilities.

    This research will create language models for addressing Information Extraction from texts in the legal domain combined with external publicly accessible document silos in order to verify statements. Automatic fact checking of legal documents allows for improvements in legal information retrieval system effectiveness.

    This project builds on Ulster University's prior research into automated subtitling and language identification where we developed hidden markov models, lexicons and phoneme bi/tri-gram sequences for any natural language modelled (e.g. English). A core outcome is language models generated from lexicons, grammars and phoneme databases with training on spoken dialogue data.

Cloud Computing

Drawing on the expertise of Ulster University’s Intelligent Systems Research Centre, our research explores specific forms of cloud encryption development as well as the legal complexities of cloud computing.

Emerging machine learning technologies rely heavily on data stored in the cloud and yet the use of cloud storage by legal service providers is often highly challenging. Our cloud computing research examines cloud technologies from design, to implementation, examining the legal issues arising out of use, as well as the technical issues associated with development, deployment, and security.

  • Dark Data & Legal Analytics

    Within organisations, data is often stored in a large number of different databases, client servers, and platforms. As intelligent systems evolve, become increasingly sophisticated, and more readily available to business consumers, there is a need to better understand the potential impact of organisational data management infrastructure, identify the existence of data silos, and assess what challenges this may present for the adoption of future technologies. This project looks at the implications of data siloing, and explore the ways in which dark data can be leveraged to provide valuable business insight and analytics.

Legal Education

The vast majority of students who undertake a degree in law do so with the intention of pursing a career in the field; however, the evolving model of legal practice is changing the traditional training and career pathway.

Cost pressures, automation, globalisation, deregulation, changing client relationships and cuts to the public sector have made entry to the profession far more competitive. Those who do gain entry are faced with an increasingly technological environment for which current academic and vocational training offers little preparation. It is not just the content of a law degree that has seemingly failed to keep pace with the times but also the method of delivery. Efforts to incorporate more experiential models of learning continue to be viewed as non-standard, leading to an educational model that exists largely detached from the application and experience of law in the real world.

Our research focuses on how we can improve the delivery of legal education, in order to better prepare students for the future of the legal profession. This research dovetails with our curriculum initiatives and course developments. Our research focuses not just on innovation in the curriculum, but how technology can also improve the learning experience for students of law.

For further information on our legal education work please contact Dr Adam Buick.