Conference Report

Conference Report: 15th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law (

Sponsoring Organization: International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law (

The 15th International Conference on AI and Law (ICAIL 2015) was held in San Diego, California, on June 8-12, 2015.  The event was hosted by the University of San Diego School of Law and took place at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice on the USD campus.

The conference has been held every two years since 1987, generally alternating between North America and Europe.  This year’s conference broke prior attendance records.  180 persons attended the conference, 95 of those who registered for the full conference.

This year’s ICAIL program included three days for the main conference (paper presentation, keynote addresses, tributes, system demonstrations) and two days of workshops, tutorials, and related events.

Historically, ICAIL has always had highlighted two distinct directions in its research themes.  These have included, first, using law as a rich domain for AI research, and, second, using AI techniques to develop legal applications.  This tradition continued this year, with an increased emphasis on the applications side.

The conference offered five main workshops whose topics were diverse and contemporary.  The workshops were:

  • Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (DESI VI)

Full title: “Workshop on Using Machine Learning and Other Advanced Techniques to Address Legal Problems in E-Discovery and Information Governance”

  • Law and Big Data


  • Automated Semantic Analysis of Legal Texts

Full title: “Workshop on Automated Detection, Extraction and Analysis of Semantic Information in Legal Texts”

  • Evidence in the Law

Full title: “Workshop on Studying Evidence in the Law: Formal, Computational and Philosophical Methods”

  • Multilingual Gathering on AI and Law Research

Full title  “First ICAIL Multilingual Workshop on AI & Law Research”

In addition to the workshops, Conference Chair Ted Sichelman organized two continuing legal education (CLE) sessions for attorneys. The first session focused on the use of machine learning and related techniques in intellectual property law, and featured several academics, plus speakers from industry, including Google and Thomson Reuters.  The second session addressed the use of AI in legal search technologies, and included talks by IAAIL President Jack Conrad and a pioneering academic, Tom Smith, in the field of legal citation networks.

The conference also showcased new events intended to reach out to a variety of previously under-served communities and audiences.  These included the multilingual workshop for AI and Law researchers from non-English-speaking countries (cf: above), and the successful doctoral consortium to welcome and encourage student researchers.  Two well-attended tutorials were also offered for those new to the field:

  • An introduction to AI and Law and
  • An examination of legal ontologies.

ICAIL 2015 also presented four keynote talks, each with a distinctly different focus.

Jan Becker (Robert Bosch LLC) reported on progress in self-driving vehicles and how these vehicles obey traffic rules; Jack G. Conrad (Thomson Reuters), in his IAAIL Presidential Address, reflected upon past developments within AI and Law and commented on current and upcoming challenges facing researchers in the field and the means to address them; Jerry Kaplan (Stanford University) explored the attribution of rights and responsibilities to AI systems under the law; Michael Luck (King’s College London) discussed electronic contracts in agent-based systems and the emergence of norms within these systems.

In all, 58 papers were submitted to the conference.  Of these, 15 were accepted as full papers (10 pages) and 15 were accepted as research abstracts (5 pages).  Four additional submissions were accepted as abstracts of system demonstrations, and these systems were showcased in a popular demo session.   The proceedings were published by the ACM and the papers are now available in the ACM Digital Library.

In addition to the long-standing award for the best ICAIL student paper, three new awards were introduced this year.  The awards and their winners were:

  • Donald Berman Best Student Paper Award: Sjoerd Timmer (Utrecht University), “A Structure-guided Approach to Capturing Bayesian Reasoning about Legal Evidence in Argumentation” (co-authored with John-Jules Ch. Meyer, Henry Prakken, Silja Renooij and Bart Verheij)
  • Peter Jackson Best Innovative Application Paper Award: Erik Hemberg (MIT), Jacob Rosen (MIT), Geoff Warner (MITRE Corporation), Sanith Wijesinghe (MITRE Corporation) and Una-May O’Reilly (MIT), “Tax Non-Compliance Detection Using Co-Evolution of Tax Evasion Risk and Audit Likelihood”
  • Carole Hafner Best Paper Award, memorializing an ICAIL founder who passed away in 2015: Floris Bex (Utrecht University), “An Integrated Theory of Causal Stories and Evidential Arguments”
  • Best Doctoral Consortium Student Award: Jyothi Vinjumur (University of Maryland), “Methodology for Constructing Test Collections using Collaborative Annotation”

This year the sponsoring IAAIL organization held its biennial general membership meeting at the end of Wednesday’s lunch-hour.  During that meeting a number of key issues were addressed, most notably elections for the next IAAIL Executive Committee, slated to serve their 2016-17 term starting in January.  The results of the election have been summarized and posted here:

Also at the membership meeting, the IAAIL Executive Committee announced the Program Chair for ICAIL 2017, Guido Governatori, one of the standing members on the Committee and a past PC chair of the European-based JURIX conference.  Later in the meeting, King’s College London made a pitch for hosting the next ICAIL.  These developments were reported on in greater detail in the following post:

Sponsors of the conference included the International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law (, Thomson Reuters, the University of San Diego Center for IP Law & Markets, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, TrademarkNow, and Legal Robot.  The conference was held in cooperation with AAAI and ACM SIGAI.

The community is grateful to its highly dedicated and tireless conference officials — Katie Atkinson (program chair), Ted Sichelman (conference chair) and Anne Gardner (secretary/treasurer).