Monika Agnieszka Jankowska

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rice U.

Grant number

Gr. 10690

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Jankowska, Monika (Rice U.) "Robot lawyers in China: who produces and disseminates legal knowledge in the era of generative AI?"

Since the emergence of ChatGPT, building a chatbot capable of providing reliable legal advice has become the goal for legal AI developers worldwide. As the Chinese government sees AI as a means to improve efficiency and trust in the justice system, local developers have come to the forefront of the legal chatbot race. My research posits legal AI as a novel tool of algorithmic governance that can transform the nature of legal expertise and reconfigure the positions of technical experts, legal professionals, and laypeople within the larger legal system. To explore these themes, I draw inspiration from the anthropological studies on automation, interactions between law and technology, and governance in China. My research will take place in Beijing and explore how three groups of people interact with legal AI: (1) technical and legal experts developing legal chatbots, (2) legal professionals using AI at work, and (3) laypeople. More specifically, I will investigate (1) what kinds of knowledge and expertise inform legal AI development and how the developers conceptualize a successful legal chatbot; (2) what qualifies as legal work and who can perform it; (3) how interactions with legal chatbots shape people’ expectations and strategies for engagement with the legal system.