Legal Information Technology: Data Analysis & Coding for Access to Justice

Quick Info
(2860.03)  Course
Professor S. Rehaag
3 credit(s)  3 hour(s);
Asychronous online modules and assignments, synchronous Hyflex (in-person/remote) discussions
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

In this course, students will engage with law as data, using new legal technologies that promise to shift how lawyers practice in coming years, with a particular emphasis on exploring implications for access to justice. The aim is to examine not how the law regulates new legal technologies, but rather how these technologies can or should be used by legal professionals to advance the rights and interests of marginalized groups.

The course will use a hands-on experiential pedagogy. That is, students will engage directly with new legal technologies – including by completing several small coding projects involving legal data analysis. In addition to exploring these technologies, students will critically reflect on their ethical, professional, social, and economic impacts, focusing on implications for low-income and otherwise marginalized groups.

No prior coding experience is required. The course recognizes that students may bring a range of prior skills and knowledge. Both learning and evaluation have been designed to allow students who are beginners to coding and legal data analysis opportunities to successfully explore a new area, while also allowing students who already have relevant technical skills – as well as students who want to push their skillsets further – to take on more advanced projects. As such, participation is weighted heavily, and students can elect to pursue final projects that involve coding or no-code/low-code final research papers.

The course involves both synchronous and asynchronous components. After an initial introductory class, most of the first half of the course will be delivered asynchronously, through online modules and small coding projects. The instructor will be available for online troubleshooting sessions and for other support during the hours notionally set aside for classes in the weeks when modules and small coding projects are completed. In addition, at the conclusion of each small coding project, synchronous discussion sessions will be held to explore ethical, professional, social and economic impacts, with some critical readings provided. The second half of the course will involve students working on a final project (either individually or in groups), presenting a draft of that project to colleagues for feedback, and finalizing the project.

Synchronous sessions will be delivered in a hybrid (hyflex) format, meaning that students can elect to attend any given synchronous session either in person or remotely via Zoom. Classes will be scheduled in 3-hour blocks.


(1) Introduction to Coding & Access to Justice (Module 1: Automating the boring stuff)

(2) Data Gathering & Cleaning (Module 2: Finding legal datasets and creating new ones)

(3) Data Analysis (Module 3: I have some legal data, now what?)

(4) Artificial Intelligence (Module 4: Using generative AI to advance access to justice)

(5) Student Presentations of Draft Final Projects