CLI Fellow Koen Swinnen

  • Improve bachelor law students' knowledge of and insight into the role of automation and digitalization in the legal profession

    Dr. Koen Swinnen is an associate professor of Private Law at the Erasmus School of Law (ESL), where he teaches property and insolvency law courses to both bachelor and master students. The focus of his academic research is on the private law challenges that arise from the ever-growing importance and value of data in both everyday life and the economic and financial world. The following questions are but a few of the plethora of burning questions that dr. Swinnen aims to answer in his research: Who owns or should own data? Should ownership of data be possible in the first place and to what extent should one, in answering this question, draw a distinction between different types of data? Does the current legal framework (in a satisfactory manner) allow data to be used as collateral for a loan? Can a creditor seize and foreclose on the data held by his debtor in case of in case of default? If the answers to the latter two questions are negative, should the law be altered and if so, what is the best way to proceed?

    Fellowship project

    The project is aimed at developing an online self-learning module to be deployed in the skills course of the first bachelor year at ESL. The overall goal of the module is to improve bachelor law students' knowledge of and insight into the role of automation and digitalization in the legal profession, with particular focus on the automation of search related legal tasks. With that goal in mind, the module will be developed to achieve learning results in fields such as: the normative framework for digitally or automatically collecting professional content (e.g. contracts, ownership of data, the filtering of illegal content), how to collect, select and order the aforementioned content, i.e. the informational background (e.g. relevancy of search terms, ordering mechanism for results), and the possibilities of using artificial intelligence for further text analysis.

    The project is part of ESL's larger digital innovation plan, where the module's learning process will be continued in a similar second-year module and a third-year minor. In the latter module and minor, the students will build on the knowledge and skills acquired in the first-year module when dealing with the challenging topics of giving legal advice and decision making in a digital environment.

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