Legal Analytics Competition on Robot Judges

The Estonian Bar Association and the University of Tartu IT Law Programme announced the competition in order to develop solutions that would make it easier for specialists, and for people not practising law, to find answers to questions regarding legal matters. Hannes Vallikivi, the chairman of the Bar Association, is hopeful that the solutions created through the competition will make the work processes of the courts simpler in the future, improve the accessibility to legal services and, overall, strengthen Estonia as a state based on the rule of law.

“Lawyers spend tens of hours a year going through the texts of legal acts and other sources of law in search of answers to complex legal questions,” said Helen Eenmaa-Dimitrieva, the director of the IT Law Programme. “Interpreting the law requires meticulously sifting through case-law, the decisions of administrative authorities, explanatory reports, the legal acts of the European Union, different guidelines, legal literature and various other sources. The combined volume of these materials is constantly increasing. By announcing this competition, we are trying to find solutions that would help decrease the overall amount of such searches as well as to make them simpler. We also wish for the creation of tools that would make legal services more accessible and the whole legal system more comprehensible to everyone.”

Hannes Vallikivi added, “There are only limited resources available in Estonia for the creation and improvement of e-services, which is why the Bar Association supports this innovative competition that aims to make the finding of relevant legal arguments faster and simpler for lawyers. Citizens that are looking to answer legal question that arise in the course of their everyday lives might also benefit from a ‘robot judge’ as such. It makes us stronger as a country when the access to legal services is consistent throughout different social groups. We hope, as with other e-services created in Estonia, that the solutions generated through this competition might eventually find their way to countries other than Estonia as well.

“At the university, we are actively working to make sure that the lawyers’ skills, and the legal systems they operate in, are supportive towards the implementation of new technologies”, added Eenmaa-Dimitrieva. For the IT Law Programme, the ‘robot judges’ competition is a great way of improving the cooperation between IT specialists and legal experts, which contributes to the development of the information society as a result.

The award fund of the competition is 10 000 EUR and the results will be announced during the ICT-week in May, 2017. Additional information about the competition can be found at: www.ut.ee/legaltech.

The Estonian Bar Association is a self-governing professional association acting on local government administration principles, which was established on 14 June 1919 for the organisation of providing legal services in both private and public interest as well as defending the professional rights of the attorneys. The Estonian Bar Association is a member of the International Bar Association (IBA) since 1992 and a full member of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) since 1 May 2004. The members of the Bar Association (advocates) include attorneys-at-law, senior assistants of attorneys-at-law and assistants of attorneys-at-law. As of the end of June 2016, the Estonian Bar Association had a total of 973 members.

The IT Law Programme at the University of Tartu is a research and study programme created in 2014 with the aim of producing highly qualified legal experts by preparing the participating students for careers that demand an intricate knowledge about the law and legal methods applied in the fields of ICT and cybersecurity. Graduates of the programme are information technology law specialists equipped with the necessary skills to successfully engage and excel in the process of legislative drafting as well as to conduct both analytical and expert work in matters related to ICT. The rapidly increasing importance and ubiquity of ICTs has created a concurrent need for lawyers adept at relevant technical matters in law firms, ICT companies, public agencies, international organisations, consulting firms and scientific institutions. The training of lawyers specialising in information technology law increases the number of top experts available on the labour market, alleviates the shortage of IT specialists in different sectors of the Estonian economy, improves growth opportunities for both IT companies as well as the legal sector and enhances the quality of IT development projects initiated by the state via public procurement. Input from the IT Law Lab project of the IT Law programme along with the efforts of the scientific research branch of the programme combine to produce a significant amount of high quality academic and practical works in the field of IT law, increasing the capability of successfully executing research and development projects necessary for the continued evolution of Estonia’s IT sector.

Additional information:

Hannes Vallikivi, Chairman of the Estonian Bar Association, hannes.vallikivi@derling.ee, +372 5116811.
Helen Eenmaa-Dimitrieva, Director of the IT Law Programme, University of Tartu, helen.eenmaa@ut.ee. 

Virge Tamme Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5815 5392 E-mail: virge.tamme@ut.ee
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