Launching Dual Degrees in Law and Computer Science: Strengthening the Justice System – The Himalayan Times – Nepal’s No.1 English Daily Newspaper
Law and IT will need to work hand in hand in the future, and preparation for the future begins with the preparation of a skilled workforce supported by a university degree in both fields. They will be the key people who will transform the field of law for our country.
Our universities offer double degrees in law coupled with management or humanities programs. With the advancement of information technology (IT) and its increasingly widespread applications, there appears to be a need to offer law degrees coupled with computer science degrees, known as BITLLB in the countries where they are offered.
Such a degree, if offered by Nepalese universities, will prepare a new set of workforce in the country capable of working in a wide range of fields.
Due to COVID-19, the functioning of the courts has also been severely disrupted.
To overcome this predicament, courts around the world have started hearing cases online.
Following the trend, the Kavre District Court started to hear cases online, which was later followed by the Supreme Court of Nepal.
This is a simple example of the use of IT infrastructure in our country’s justice system and could be the case for most developing countries.
But things are taken to a whole new level in developed countries.
An article by Eric Niiler, published in Wired, an American monthly magazine, in March 2019, reported that the Estonian Ministry of Justice had launched a project to design a “Robot Judge”, which would deal with litigation involving less than 7,000 euros. .
AI-based tools have also been used in the criminal justice system. A proprietary software tool – Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS), which provides court support in assessing recidivism – has been widely used in US courts.
In Wisconsin vs. Loomis, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the use of the Defendant’s Likelihood of Future Crime Assessment Tool.
AI-based systems have enormous potential in justice systems, but can have both positive and negative results.
Aware of this, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), recently prepared the European Ethical Charter on the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems and their environment.
These principles aim to guide the development of AI for the justice system, which is transparent, algorithmic-free and respects fundamental rights, to be used in the Member States of Europe.
At present, we are just able to adopt simple technology like online hearing, but with the advancement of time and technology, will there ever be a day when the Nepalese justice system will seek to integrate similar AI-based projects? For automating tedious tasks to be done manually, law firms in developed countries have started using AI-based solutions, which can perform tasks such as proofreading, analyzing legal documents, correcting errors and better communication with customers.
In an article published in Forbes in December 2019, his AI columnist Rob Toews profiles the type of research being conducted in Western law firms on the use of AI and how it will transform the sector.
For example, the article mentioned a startup – BlueJ, which had researched predicting the outcome of litigation.
Now, a visit to the company’s website reveals that it has already launched products focused on tax analysis for U.S. and Canadian laws – separate apps for each.
With all these examples above, it can be said that law and information technology will have to work hand in hand in the future, and the preparation for the future begins with the preparation of qualified human resources supported by a academic qualification in both fields.
The country’s justice system has already attracted enough criticism from citizens due to its traditional ink-and-paper-based work culture that often delays the delivery of justice affecting their daily lives.
They will be the key for people to transform the field of law for our country.
University degrees in law and computer science are both becoming popular among high school students, and many students would like to explore their possibilities in both fields.
A whole new era of entrepreneurship incorporating law and technology will begin in the country with such graduates entering the market. In addition, graduates with such a degree will have greater employment opportunities – allowing them to choose between two very lucrative career paths.
Graduates with such a degree will not only be developers of such systems, but will also be able to assess the performance of already developed systems.
ProPublica – an independent investigative journalism company – wrote that software like COMPAS, which was used in US courts, was biased against black people.
The software is a data-driven machine learning tool, which relies heavily on the data it has fed. Experts say the biased data caused such an output – biased data fed, biased results generated.
At present, much of the research that leads to the development of such software consists of separate legal and IT experts, with a gap between them. With one person having knowledge in both areas, algorithmic and data-based biases can be reduced.
A university degree allowing graduates to choose between two strong career paths or to work in an area of research and development that intersects the two areas will be a popular option among students.
It will also contribute in the future to improve the functioning of the legal and judicial systems of the country with people knowledgeable in social sciences related to the system and technology to stimulate the application of this knowledge in the public interest.
It is high time for the faculties of Nepalese universities to start working together for the program of such a degree and offer such programs as soon as possible.
Adhikari is pursuing his Masters in Computer Science at Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, and is interested in law and its relation to computer science.
A version of this article appears in the September 30, 2021 print of The Himalayan Times.