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Writing Competition 2019: Guidance and Inspiration

Writing Competition 2019: Guidance and Inspiration

Posted by matt-terrell | 01 October 2018

Here you can find references and ideas for the Justis International Law & Technology Writing Competition 2019 , alongside guidance and examples from last year’s competition.


The four new topics for 2019:


  • Data, Education & the Law, presented by Jisc
  • The Future of Legal Technology, presented by Justis Publishing
  • Access to Justice and Technology, presented by The City Law School
  • Social Media, Technology and the Law, presented by University of Richmond School of Law



Data, Education & the Law


From the data usage detailed in University registration terms and conditions to a full digital campus experience, educational intuitions are required to collect data which can be used to improve, support and enhance the student experience. However, with the introduction of new data laws, such as GDPR, practical challenges for universities in the UK and around the world are on the rise.


Guiding questions:


  • How will data protection in university student terms and conditions evolve as universities record and analyse more data on their students?
  • Will participant recruitment in academic research be hindered by changes in data protection laws?
  • Within current data protection laws, how can schools and colleges use data from students under the age of 18 to enhance their learning experience?




How should universities be using student data to better support their students?
Universities beginning to make more use of the data they hold on students, performing analytics tasks in order to better support their students. This can include using machine-based learning to identify students at risk of failing a course. However, this is happening in a climate where institutions must be more open about the data processing they are conducting, and where individuals have greater control over their data due to new laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While students will sign terms and conditions which permit the university to use their data, the detail as to how it is used may not be present. With this in mind, how should universities be using student data to better support their students?


More inspiration for this topic:


FAQ for universities on GDPR and learning analytics which may be useful to gain a better understanding 

Code of Practice for learning analytics

National Union of Students Learning analytics guide for students’ unions 

A student guide to Learning Analytics, from the University of Greenwich



The Future of Legal Technology 


Over the last decade the legal industry’s interest in legal technology has risen significantly. Automated contract review, artificial intelligent case law services and smart document management tools are disrupting this traditional industry. Yet as technology becomes ever more present we are seeing law makers and governments expressing a growing interest in utilising this technology to support the legal system, including online courts.


Guiding questions:


  • What steps could or should governments take to ensure that legal technology becomes widely adopted?
  • As legal technology makes increasing use of artificial intelligence, how will the legal industry react when they are not aware of how the software they use does what it does?
  • How will the legal system transform if case analytics reach 100% accuracy and technology can predict the outcome of your case before a trial begins?




Will online courts work to reduce the overloaded timetable of physical courtrooms?

Following the proposal by Lord Justice Briggs, online courts have been a topic of discussion both in government and the legal sector, with their merits and flaws being discussed at length. As a trial is undertaken, the government are committed to seriously considering how online courts may be utilised, yet concerns remain over how comprehensive this system may be compared to physical courtrooms. Can online courts work to reduce the overloaded timetable of physical courtrooms, while still dispensing justice in as comprehensive a manner?


More inspiration for this topic:


Civil Courts Structure Review, including online courts

Government funding for legal AI and data technology – “Research and development is under-funded and under-thought in the legal tech space. If it’s about how AI can fix the legal ecosystem rather than how we can make money out of commercial law, then it’s a good thing.”

Should law firms embrace AI? 




Access to Justice and Technology


Around the world, access to justice is an important component of law. People need to be able to access advice, courts and legal processes, however for many the law is out of their reach. Today’s technology can be used to improve access to justice, support vulnerable people requiring access to the legal system, and much more.


Guiding questions:


  • Can current instances of technology and the law working symbiotically provide better examples for how we can increase access to justice?
  • Is adopting new technology always beneficial in increasing access to justice?
  • Which legal system demonstrates the most effective framework for access to justice, and can that be transposed to other jurisdictions?




How might funding into legal technology solutions address the shortfall in legal aid spending?

In the UK legal aid spending has fallen from £2.6bn in 2005/6 to £1.5bn in 2016, and this has resulted in an increasing number of individuals representing themselves in the lower courts. While there are groups which are campaigning for this budget to be increased, arguing that it limits access to justice, alternative technological solutions have been proposed to minimise the impact of this shortfall. From online courts to solutions which can connect individuals to appropriate legal practitioners who are undertaking pro-bono work, are these potential solutions which can address the shortfall in legal aid spending in any meaningful way?


More inspiration for this topic:


Can technology make up for the shortfall in legal aid budgets?

Access to Justice Tech on the International Stage

Access to justice and the urgent need for a law tech revolution“If the UK does want to be a world leader in law technology, we would humbly suggest that a good place to start is fundamental reform of how legal information is made available to the public and to businesses alike.”




Social Media, Technology and the Law


Social media has the power to create connections, develop reputations and enable open dialogue. Platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Pinterest host robust communities of conversations and content. They can also be vectors for infringement, libel, crime and corruption. Legal professionals participate, advocate and innovate in these spaces. For this writing competition, JOLT seeks submissions that explore novel legal implications of social media, especially those involving technology.


Guiding questions:


  • How will current laws cope if artificial intelligence is used to conduct illegal activities on social media platforms, such as through the use of chatbots?
  • If user data from social networks can be used to prevent crime, what legal framework would be required to ensure the cooperation of social media companies across jurisdictional boundaries?
  • With the development of immersive online communities built on virtual reality such as Second Life, how do current laws govern negligent actions?




Can communities on social media platforms ever truly be regulated?

With the rise of the ‘alt-right’ in recent years, there has been increasing concern over hate speech online, particularly among both open and closed communities which organise on social media. In response to this, there has been a repeatedly stated political will to make the owners of social media services more responsible for the content that is posted on their platform. However, with the immense volume of posts on social media platforms on any given day, and concerns of freedom of speech mentioned as a common opposition to any censorship, can communities on social media platforms ever truly be regulated?


More inspiration for this topic:


Why it’s unconstitutional for politicians to block people on social media

Legal chatbots: something for nothing? 

MP launches bill to ban secret Facebook groups that spread hate



The 2018 competition


Last year we launched the first ever Justis International Law and Technology Writing Competition which proved successful, however we have updated the format, topics and dates from last year’s competition. Previously, our shortlisted entries were announced in January 2018 , judging began in February 2018, and the runners-up and overall winner announced in March 2018 – This year the winner will be announced in February.

Our 2018 overall winner was Roisin Costello from Trinity College Dublin, and the three runners-up were Patrick Alexander Hum from the London School of Economics, Secil Bilgic from Harvard University and Jae Jun Kim from the University of Auckland. Roisin Costello, the overall 2018 winner, explains why students should enter next year’s competition, and provides advice for current students on writing original and creative blogs:

“The competition offers an exceptional opportunity to expose your writing to Justis’ international readership, and an associated impact for your research findings and ideas few students receive. The competition is exceptional, as the caliber of entries included on the shortlist this year illustrated and I can only imagine this will become even more evident in coming years. At an individual level the discipline of distilling complex legal arguments and ideas into concise, approachable pieces for public consumption is a hugely valuable skill both in practice and, increasingly, for those entering academia who want to communicate the importance of their research to the populations affected by it.

Generally my advice would be to write, not conversationally, but very clearly, in direct, precise language. I think it is important to bear in mind you are not necessarily addressing an audience who have a pre-existing interest or experience of the subject you are discussing – or its importance. What may seem obvious to you is not necessarily so to an ‘outsider.’ There can also be a temptation to acknowledge and counter every argument and cram in a level of nuance that simply doesn’t sit well with the medium. For what it’s worth I think good blogs are highly precise in their use of language, have one clear, concisely articulated view or argument, a solution and a brief acknowledgement (if necessary) of the limitations of same.”


Winning and Best in Category articles


International Writing Competition 2018 overall runner-up article, for the category: The Future of Legal Practice

Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Industry: Making Sense of AI for Aspiring Lawyer

By Patrick Alexander Hum, LLM candidate, London School of Economics.


International Writing Competition 2018 overall runner-up article, for the category: Global Public Impact

Jurors, the Internet and Mistrials

By Jae Jun Kim from the University of Auckland, New Zealand


International Writing Competition 2018 overall runner-up article, for the category: Technological Innovations

Can Facebook Make Data-scraping Illegal?

By Secil Bilgic from Harvard Law School, USA


International Writing Competition 2018 overall winning article

The Tortoise and the Hare? Due Process and Unconstitutionally Obtained Evidence in the Digital Age

By Róisín Costello from Trinity College School of Law, Dublin


< Return to the writing competition page

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