The online interactive magazine of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

By Michał Araszkiewicz

IAAIL SecretaryTreasurer; Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland

The 18th International Conference for Artificial Intelligence and Law (ICAIL 2021) was organized at the University of São Paulo School of Law, Brazil. For the first time, the ICAIL conference was organized entirely online, due to the overall Covid-19 pandemic situation. Despite unusual circumstances, the ICAIL 2021 was a success, attracting almost 1400 registered participants and offering a rich, diverse program.


The 18th International Conference for Artificial Intelligence and Law (ICAIL 2021) was organized at the University of São Paulo School of Law, Brazil. ICAIL is a biannual conference organized under the auspices of the International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law ( and focused, inter alia, on such topics as computational modeling of legal reasoning and knowledge, designing intelligent tools supporting legal tasks and the analysis of legal data, which are jointly referred to as the AI and Law research. For the first time, the ICAIL conference was organized entirely online, due to the overall Covid-19 pandemic situation. Despite these unusual circumstances, the conference came out as a considerable success, attracting almost 1400 registered participants, the highest number ever. The conference talks were streamed publicly on the YouTube channel and the discussions and networking were enabled on the platforms accessible for the registered participants. Undoubtedly, the application of these solutions contributed to the broader dissemination of the AI and Law research.

The program of the conference included 17 full papers, 17 short papers, 8 extended abstracts and two demo papers. Two invited talks were presented – one, titled “Provably Beneficial AI” by Professor Stuart Russell (University of California Berkeley; pre-recorded talk with a panel session) and another one by Joe Cohen (Innovation Leas, Dentons UK, Ireland and Middle East), who spoke about innovative applications of information technology in the environment of global law firm. Traditionally, during the conference an address by the IAAIL President was given (at this edition by Enrico Francesconi from IGSG-CNR, the Institute of Legal Informatics and Judicial Studies of the National Research Council of Italy, and currently also at the European Parliament).

The conference was accompanied by 11 thematic workshops: BEFAIR2: Bias, Ethics and Fairness in Artificial Intelligence: Representation and Reasoning; COLIEE2021: Competition on Legal Information Extraction/Entailment; LegalAIIA: AI vs. Intelligent Assistance for Legal Professionals in the Digital Workplace; JUL.IA: Artificial Intelligence in JUrisdictional Logistics; XAILA2021: Explainable and Responsible AI and Law; COPYRIGHT: Copyright Regulation of Inputs and Outputs of AI Systems; AILBIZ: International Workshop on AI for Understanding the Legal Business; ASAIL: Automated Detection, Extraction and Analysis of Semantic Information in Legal Texts; PATENTS: Artificial Intelligence and Patents; MWAIL: Multilingual workshop on AI and Law and RELATED: Relations in the Legal Domain. Moreover, a Doctoral Consortium – a session devoted to the presentation of PhD projects by the young researchers in the field was attached to the conference for the third time. During the event the IAAIL General Assembly was also held to elect the new officers and members of the IAAIL Executive and Nominating Committees, beginning their terms in 2022. Traditionally, the ICAIL awards were given to the authors of outstanding papers.

Carole Hafner ICAIL 2021 Best Paper Award was given to Neel Guha, Lucia Zheng, Brandon Ray Anderson, Peter Henderson and Daniel En-Wenn Ho for the paper titled “When Does Pretraining Help? Assessing Self-Supervised Learning for Law and the CaseHOLD Dataset of 53,000+ Legal Holdings”. The work addressed the question of when researchers should engage in domain-specific pre-training and identified the conditions under which pre-training is useful.

The recipients of the Peter Jackson Award for Best Innovative Application Paper were Andrew Paley, Andong L. Li Zhao, Harper Pack, Sergio Servantez, Rachel F. Adler, Marko Sterbentz, Adam Pah, David Schwartz, Cameron Barrie, Alexander Einarsson and Kristian Hammond, who co-authored the paper titled “From Data to Information: Automating Data Science to Explore the U.S. Court System”. It was indicated that the work enhances utility of legal data and removes barriers to information access by applying automated analytical and visualization capabilities on the data.

Donald H. Berman Award for Best Student Paper laureates are Paheli Bhattacharya, Soham Poddar, Koustav Rudra, Kripabandhu Ghosh and Saptarshi Ghosh for the paper titled “Incorporating Domain Knowledge for Extractive Summarization of Legal Case Documents”. Their work provides an approach for domain-specific extractive summarization for court proceedings of the Indian Supreme Court. The method focuses on representing all important sections of a court document in the summary.

Finally, the Doctoral Consortium Best Paper Award was given to Alexander Stepanov for the paper titled “The Digital Administrative Act”. The PhD project offers an interdisciplinary insight into the problems of administrative proceedings automatization.

Generally speaking, the conference program provided a good overview of the state of the art in the relevant topics, including the application of machine learning models to analyze legal data, representation of legal knowledge and the development of computational models of legal reasoning. The legal and ethical problems related to the increasingly widespread application of intelligent systems in different spheres of societal life, including the legal domain (Legal Tech solutions), become perceived as more and more important area for the AI and Law community.

The conference was held in cooperation with the AAAI and ACM SIGAI.


Adam Zachary Wyner (Swansea University, United Kingdom)


Conference Chair

Juliano Maranhão (University of São Paulo, Brazil)


Doctoral Consortium Chair

Michał Araszkiewicz (Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland)