On Thursday, 11 March 2021, the 2020/21 cohort of students from the Oxford Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Law, presented their practical projects in a pitch-like session to over thirty experts from across the industry and academia.

“Great session. Brimming with energy, insight, and a few ideas that I can imagine attracting investment. A triumph of inter-disciplinary teaching and collaboration.”
– Prof Richard Susskind OBE

Five teams of six students (three from each discipline) sought to develop a solution to a real-world problem whilst benefiting from the combination of the multidisciplinary expertise in each team. This year, all participants in the Law and Computer Science course have had the opportunity to benefit from feedback by a group of industry mentors who give practical insights relating to projects based on either smart contracts and blockchain technology or natural language processing (NLP).

Law and Computer Science: Class of 2020/2021 - photo

The products and services conceived, designed, and created by the project teams were these:

  • NLP-powered service to summarise key clauses in Limited Partnership Agreements,
  • Blockchain-based authentication tool to fight counterfeit luxury goods,
  • NLP-based named-entity recognition service for court judgments,
  • Privacy-preserving and NHS-verifiable Track & Trace app for venues,
  • NLP-powered analytic tool to identify boilerplate clauses and determine their risk-score.

All these projects, advanced as part of the Law and Computer Science course which is co-convened by Prof Rebecca Williams (Professor of Public Law and Criminal Law) and Prof Tom Melham (Professor of Computer Science) and co-directed by Dr Václav Janeček (Research and Course Development Fellow in Law and Technology), were developed effectively from scratch during the last four months.

The audience, including Prof Richard Susskind OBE, Prof John Armour, Prof Ewart Keep, and Dr Anna Donovan, and together with representatives of Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May, Thomson Reuters, Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance, and Oxford Sciences Innovation, amongst many others, were impressed by the student projects. In particular, they valued how professional and sophisticated the projects were in their conception, execution, and presentation. In the words of Prof Susskind, this was a “[g]reat session. Brimming with energy, insight, and a few ideas that I can imagine attracting investment. A triumph of inter-disciplinary teaching and collaboration.”

The final event, as well as all the project teamwork and product development, were executed fully online.

Law and Computer Science: 2020-2021

On the technical side, the practical projects were supervised by

Access to training and testing data for the NLP-based projects was generously provided by

Congitiv+ has provided a data annotation tool. Dr Rossana Ducato and Angela Tang convened a special Legal Design workshop with the students.

Industry mentors for the 2020-21 academic year were:

We very much look forward to having the 2020/21 cohort join our Law and Computer Science course alumni network and develop their collaborative endeavours further.

A number of teams are hoping to develop their products further and are following up connections to do this.

The course and practical lab sessions for our students are closely linked with a large-scale research programme titled Unlocking the Potential of Artificial Intelligence for English Law. If you want to learn more about the course and the programme, or are interested in sponsoring opportunities, please contact the course convenors.