Critical Legal Tech

Critically assessing legal tech.

Legal technology solutions such as chatbots, automated document verification and sentencing decision support systems are becoming increasingly important. Such legal technologies (“legal tech”) increase the accessibility to and efficiency of the legal system. Legal tech is also an important economic sector, fostering interest in developing digital technologies in the legal domain.

Critically investigating these new technologies is as important as the technological shift itself. The applied technologies are not neutral, but convey specific visions of the law and the society they address. Legal tech impacts the way law is practised within its institutions and professional fields. This ongoing digital transformation potentially changes the legal system in many aspects, such as courtroom and discovery procedures. It also affects the legal domain on more fundamental levels, like our understandings of accountability, responsibility, and the abstract understanding of ‘the law’ expressed in legal practices.

Within the Critical Legal Tech group, we investigate how legal tech changes the legal system and its inner logic. We explore how new technologies are changing the mechanisms of knowing, decoding, and legitimising within the legal domain.

The Critical Legal Tech group assembles scholars from different academic fields and institutions, such as STS, Legal Studies, Sociology, and Computer Science. We bridge discussions of legal theory and black letter law with law in action and theoretical and empirical studies on digital technologies. By combining social, technological, and legal aspects in our work, we aim to create new perspectives on Digital Legal Tech and to foster reflexive forms of technology adaption within the legal system.

Nikolaus Poechhacker is Head of the Critical Legal Tech Group. He is a Science and Technology scholar with a professional background in IT. In his work, he is exploring the social and politics dimensions of digital technologies in democratic institutions with a focus on the legal domain.