New paper in "Science" describes how to bring tools of complexity science to bear on improving law

Thursday, March 30, 2017
 Jim Richardson, National Geographic Creative
Cover of the March 31, 2017, issue of SciencePhoto: Jim Richardson, National Geographic Creative

In a paper appearing in the March 31, 2017, issue of Science, Vanderbilt law professor J.B. Ruhl, Chicago-Kent professor Daniel Martin Katz, and Chicago-Kent researcher Michael J. Bommarito II propose that the legal profession apply the tools of complexity science to help improve legal systems.

Just as regulatory systems are complex adaptive systems (CAS) as defined by complexity scientists, so are legal systems, assert the authors. Legal systems incorporate hallmark elements of CAS, including diverse institutions (legislatures, agencies, courts), norms (due process, equality, fairness), actors (legislators, bureaucrats, judges) and instruments (regulations, injunctions, taxes), linked through dense interconnections.

The authors outline a research agenda to map CAS concepts onto the legal system, applying the tools of complexity science to measure, monitor and manage elements of the system from the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations to day-to-day legal tasks. Their agenda calls for four facets of research: data acquisition, data structuring, building practical applications and learning.

Legal complexity is a growing challenge in our modern society and this new paper outlines a research agenda designed to confront the challenge. Professor Katz noted, "This is an important step for The Law Lab @ Illinois Tech - Chicago Kent College of Law as it demonstrates our commitment to using the tools of science to make the law better."

This paper is particularly noteworthy as papers from the legal academy are rarely published in Science.

Professor Daniel Martin Katz is a scientist, technologist and legal scholar who applies an innovative polytechnic approach to teaching law. Both his scholarship and teaching integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He teaches Civil Procedure, E-Discovery, Legal Analytics and Practice & Professionalism at Chicago-Kent and spearheads new initiatives to teach law students how to leverage technology and entrepreneurship in their future legal careers.

Michael Bommarito II is head of research at The Law Lab @ Chicago-Kent, a premier, interdisciplinary teaching and research center focused on legal innovation and technology.

Founded in 1888, Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, a private, technology-focused, research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law.

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