Artificial Lawyer – LIDI Project To Lower Legal Data Barriers, Help NLP Training

Sep 24, 2020 | Press

The Legal Innovation Data Institute was featured in popular UK legal technology blog “Artificial Lawyer”.

They write:

“A new project to increase access to legal data, called the Legal Innovation Data Institute (LIDI), has launched in Canada.

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“LIDI will operate as ‘a steward of public, but sensitive court and tribunal rulings and other legal data’. In short it will make it easier for lawyers and other interested parties, including tech companies that perhaps need legal data for NLP machine learning training, to access and make use of a broad collection of legal information.

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“[Access to data] is especially important to the training of machine learning systems based on NLP (natural language processing). Without enough relevant data to build up its accuracy, NLP cannot return a useful result. But, if case law is buried behind an expensive pay wall, or has strict licence rules, then this effectively shuts out all but the richest companies.

“The lack of access to comprehensive and well-organised court data has also been a source of discussion in the UK, where a variety of private deals between courts and large companies, and patchy data access rules, have put smaller legal tech companies at a disadvantage when it comes to developing their own dispute-related NLP tools. There has even been an open consultation on the issue here.

Colin Lachance, founder and Executive Director of the project, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘API and bulk access to legal data compilations is foundational to legal innovation. Sharing content in this way has been a personal mission for years, so I’m thrilled to have finally sorted out a model and attracted a sufficient base of supporters to make it a reality.’

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“The group explained its goal like this: ‘Imagine trying to write a story with only a partial alphabet. Or trying to write a song with access to just a few notes. It’s the same with legal data – the more you can access, the more you can do. Through a unique member and collaborator model, LIDI lowers legal data access barriers in Canada and facilitates innovation on an unprecedented scale.’

LIDI will be not-for-profit and ‘takes inspiration from the global free access to law community’. That said, membership is needed for most parties to access the data. Although they are also looking for sponsorship for those who cannot pay for that membership. They added: ‘Where full membership [could be] out-of-reach for some groups, individuals and startups, in these circumstances, LIDI would still like to enable short-term access to these innovators and researchers…with [sponsor] help’.”

Visit Artificial Lawyer to read the full article.