This intervention addresses an emergent field of inquiry for critical geography, namely the transnational dissemination of legal technology for rule of law purposes. Whereas critical attention has been given to digital humanitarianism and the “marketization” of displacement through Big Data (Burns 2019; Taylor and Meissner 2019), little focus has been given to the technologization of the development/rule of law nexus. Digitization and datafication increasingly shape our understanding of legal problems and what are considered appropriate legal responses. Globally, ICTs shift the time, cost and scope of legal knowledge production and management. “Legal technology” refers to smart contracts, blockchain, and bespoke digital platforms and apps as well as computational applications in artificial intelligence technology, software and computer analytics to provide legal services and justice. However, the rise of legal tech also generates important structural changes in the make-up, strategies and activities of legal institutions and the legal profession – and in how market actors, ordinary citizens and civil society understand, access and use law. Asking whether the globalization of primarily US-produced legal technology represents a new moment in the law and development trajectory, this intervention identifies pointers for critical reflection for scholars interested in transnational law and legal transplants.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2019) Is Legal Technology a New “Moment” in the Law and Development Trajectory?, ANTIPODE. 4 December.