Refugee Law Lab: Judging Readability: A Study of Opinions Written by Apex Court Judges from Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Mike Madden)

Part of the Refugee Law Lab Online Seminar Series

Speaker: Mike Madden is a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, and a graduate student member of the university’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society.

Discussant: Jon Khan is a PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

Abstract: Lots of judicial opinions are difficult to read, but to varying degrees. In this seminar, Mike Madden discusses how he has used a new quantitative readability formula that leverages Natural Language Processing and corpus linguistics tools to measure the readability levels of opinions written by different apex court judges from various countries. He then explores the extent to which author-specific biographical variables, and opinion-specific contextual variables, are capable of explaining or predicting readability differences between these opinions. A working draft paper is available on SSRN.

To register to attend via zoom:


Oct 20 2022


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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