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GovTech Summit 2022: The interaction between Law and Tech

LegalTech: the use of technology and software to provide legal services and support the legal sector. On 1 November, the GovTech Summit 2022 took place in the World Forum in The Hague. During the summit, technological innovations in the public sector were addressed from a number of different perspectives. Joanne van der Leun, Dean of Leiden Law School, and Anne Meuwese, Professor of Public Law & Governance of Artificial Intelligence were also present.

Involve students

During the panel discussion, Joanne van der Leun expressed her hope that more students will become involved in LegalTech in the future. 

Joanne: ‘What is very important to me, is that we need to realise that technological innovations do not only lead to a large number of legal and societal questions, but that they are also causing significant changes in the legal field. Which is why it is crucial that law students are also included and involved in developments from an early stage. This can be achieved by innovations in education, but also by more direct collaborations with organisations, institutions, and companies. That is the only way the developments in LegalTech will also be able to provide better access to justice, a fairer society, and a humane development of technology.’

Leiden Law Park is one of many good iniatives to promote entrepreneurship among students. It aims to create an open space where students can meet each other and work together. 


During the LegalTech session, Anne Meuwese talked about the WetSuite project as a case study. In this project, an infrastructure is prepared that will enable researchers to apply advanced computer technologies, such as Natural Language Processing, to government decisions from both the legislature, as well as the administration and the courts. Even though this infrastructure is primarily focussed on scholars, since PDI-SSH is financing this project, it is not unthinkable that in the spirit of co-creation, start-ups and government authorities will also be able to make use of it. Both of the infrastructure or of the research that researchers are able to produce with it. An example of a future GovTech tool is an application that is able to detect bias in the language used in legislation or decisions. 

With this case study, Anne was able to demonstrate how LegalTech can be used to improve certain issues in, for instance, government decisions. This project also stemmed from a more personal motivation, namely frustrations about the information gap between the government and civilians. The challenge here, again, was to initiate dialogue between the disciplines. What, for instance, is necessary for a person without knowledge of coding to be able to extract information from computer code? This case study was a good example of what can be accomplished with LegalTech, but also of what is still needed in the future. 

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