LAW5649 - Law in the age of artificial intelligence - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Janice Richardson

Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


The different ways in which Artificial Intelligence continues to disrupt both law and the legal profession are well publicised. In this unit, we take a closer look at the legal, ethical and political problems of the day that result from AI. Who wins and who loses in the age of artificial intelligence? The content will change as different problems and attempts at legal solutions arise. This is therefore indicative content:

  1. The future of the Legal Profession as it incorporates AI: the extent to which AI will aid or replace some para-legals or even some lawyers; will produce alternatives to dispute resolution though the courts and will address problems of access to justice. For example, there is an algorithm that has allowed users to overturn 160,000 parking tickets is that of the website: Richard Susskind (2017) has argued that there will be a completely different model of legal practice arising as a result of AI and his arguments will be analysed.

    The legal profession will be understood within a broader context by taking a closer look at the regulating of the future of work, including: the threat to the middle classes from a "fourth industrial revolution"; the gig economy; the minimal protection of privacy and surveillance in the workplace. This will include an analysis of the impact of IT on recruitment and promotion.

  2. Specific areas of legal changes;
    1. Torts Law - For example: changes in civil legal procedure e.g. discovery stage using data mining; privacy issues in common law or statute; regulating the economic use of digital remains: civil regulation of digital afterlife Industry; AI as legal persons.
    2. Criminal law: The use of AI to decide where to police, for example this is being used in NSW (see Gifford (2018 below); the impact of algorithms for sentencing and bail decisions and the concerns about racism built into these algorithms, where they have been used in US.
    3. Family Law: The use of AI and surveillance as part of domestic abuse.
    4. Public law: The implications of AI for democracy; the use of Big data to try to influence the electoral process: the case of Cambridge Analytica; the use of AI in state decision-making such as welfare; state regulation and Tech Giants.


On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and evaluation of the impact of AI on law and the legal profession;
  • assess relevant academic literature and apply the results of the research to the specific issues under review;
  • critically assess, and communicate both orally and in writing, developments and challenges in relation to AI and the law;
  • reflect on their own capabilities and performance, and make use of feedback on their classroom performance to support personal and professional development.


Group presentation in class (20%), with written submission of 1500 words: 20%; and

Take Home Examination (4500 words): 60%

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per teaching period (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements).