Legal informatics

Legal informatics. Set of computer applications in the legal field; It is an interdisciplinary technique that aims to study and research the knowledge applicable to the recovery of legal information, as well as the development and use of instruments for analysis and treatment of legal information, necessary to achieve such recovery.


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  • 1 Origin and evolution
    • 1 Another achievement
  • 2 As a science
    • 1 Source of Law
  • 3 As a discipline
  • 4 Denominations
  • 5 Ratings
    • 1 Documentary legal informatics
      • 1.1 Relevant aspects for its development
    • 2 Legal management informatics
      • 2.1 Classifications
    • 3 Decision-making legal informatics
      • 3.1 Classifications
    • 6 References
    • 7 Sources

Origin and evolution

Computing constitutes a science-phenomenon, which has managed to penetrate all spheres or areas of human knowledge; and since Law is a science, as it constitutes an area of ​​human knowledge, it is reflected in a set of knowledge, since it does not fall into the exception of being treated by Informatics, giving rise in instrumental terms to legal informatics, which is a science that is part of Informatics, which when applied to Law , seeks logical and automatic treatment of legal information.

Legal informatics has undergone a series of variations throughout the evolution of Informatics itself, but its birth was demarcated in 1959 in the United States . It had its beginning when the first investigations were carried out in the 1950s to seek the recovery of legal documents in an automated way. In this way, computers begin to be used, no longer for mathematical works, but also for linguistic ones. It was at the University of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania , through the Health Law Center, where the director named John Horty conceived the idea of ​​creating a mechanism through which legal information could be accessed in an automated manner.

For the year 1959 , the aforementioned University of Pennsylvania center placed the Pennsylvania legal systems on magnetic tapes. This was the State where the computer legal compilation was born, which was demonstrated the following year, that is, in 1960 , before the American Bar Association, at its annual meeting in the United States Capital, Washington, DC . As a result of this great inventiveness, the Aspen Systems Corporation redesigned the aforementioned automated legal system, and subsequently exploited it commercially. It was in this way, as the automation of the legal systems of that country were taking place. In 1966 twelve states in the United States had this system, and for1968 , fifty States of that same country welcomed it.

Another achievement

Another achievement for the development of legal informatics can also be achieved at the aforementioned Health Law Center, through a system called Lite, today called Flite, which consists of Federal legal information through computers, developed under contract with the North American Air Force in 1969 . The 1960s marks the beginning of the development of various systems. In addition to those mentioned above as the Aspen system and the Lite (today Flite), other systems arise such as:

  • In 1964the American Data Recovery Corporation began commercially exploiting legislative data processing systems.
  • In approximately 1967, the Ohio Bar Automated Investigation Corporation developed systems focused on trial attorneys, called the OBAR system. However, work on this system was continued in 1970 by Mead Data Central, which commercially exploited the LEXIS system in 1973 as a successor to OBAR.

On the other hand, IBM was expanding in the area of ​​document retrieval, to the point that in Washington, DC, the IBM document processing system, called IBM-TEXTPAC, began to be used. IBM developed another system called STAIRS, which was hosted by other states in the United States.

As science

It is a science that studies the use of electronic devices or physical elements, such as the computer, in Law; that is, the aid that this use provides to the development and application of the Law. In other words, it is to see the instrumental aspect given by Informatics in Law, thus discovering the techniques and knowledge for the investigation and development of Computer science knowledge for the expansion of Law, through legal recovery, such as also the elaboration of legal linguistic material, analysis instruments, and in general, the treatment of legal information.

Source of Law

Legal informatics is a science that is part of the computing field, thus demonstrating that informatics has penetrated countless systems, institutions, etc. and proof of this is that it has entered the legal field to serve as a help and as a source. Therefore, legal informatics can be considered as a source of Law.

As a discipline

Legal Informatics, as a discipline within Cybernetics -which constitutes the mediate framework between the relationship between Law and Informatics, and which itself forms part of cybernetics as a general science-, has made possible the development of sciences that, when mixed, enable a better development and treatment of the communication of the same, as reflected in this relationship between Law and Informatics from which certain disciplines emerge, such as: Legal Informatics, Computer Law , Jurimetry, Legal Modeling, among others.


  • Jurimetrics (in SpanishJurimetrics): name created by the American judge Lee Loevinger, in 1949.
  • Giuscibernetica (in Spanish juscibernética):from the Italian professor Mario Losano, who maintains that cybernetics applied to Law produces a purification not only in quantitative terms, but also qualitative [1] .
  • Computers and Law:Denomination used in Anglo-Saxon countries.
  • Informatique jurique:France
  • Elektronische datenverabeitung and rechtor more recently rechtsinformatique: terms used in Germany .
  • Rechcibernetik:terminology used in Eastern Europe.
  • Jurismatics or legal informatics:denominations used in Mexico and in the vast majority of Latin American countries.


Legal informatics studies the automated treatment of:

  1. the sources of legal knowledge through the systems of legislative, jurisprudential and doctrinal documentationdocumentary legal informatics ).
  2. the sources of legal production, through the computerized elaboration of the logical-formal factors that concur in the legislative process and in the judicial decision (decisional legal informatics).
  3. the organizational processes of the infrastructure or instrumental means with which the Law is managed ( Legal management informatics).

Documentary legal informatics

The analysis of the information contained in legal documents for the formation of documentary Data Banks follows from this branch . As a rule of legal informatics, it consists of the application of computer techniques to legal documentation in the aspects of analysis, filing, and retrieval of information contained in legislation, jurisprudence, doctrine, or any other document with relevant legal content. In addition to other areas, it includes the application of documentary techniques, understood documentation as the act of gathering data on a given topic and the treatment of these in view of their definition.

It also includes documentary analysis, which can be defined as the set of executions carried out to represent the content of a document, in a different way from the original, in order to facilitate consultation or search at a stage after storage that this accumulation of original or reproduced documents, inserted in the documentary memory so as to allow the recovery operations and to locate the informative content.

Relevant aspects for its development

  • The technical-legal application

It adjusts to the special methodology of analysis of information units according to the previously adopted system; In other words, these are information treatment and retrieval systems, and the following systems are commonly applied:

  1. Indexing:Consists of the elaboration of a rigid list of descriptors through the qualification of the information contained in a source document, by means of the descriptor or descriptors that are considered appropriate, the information is identified by means of the designation of one or more words keys or key phrases (descriptors), taken from a list previously prepared according to the type of information in question.
  2. Full text or Full text:It consists of the storage of the integral text in the computer in order to retrieve the information contained in it by any of the matters to which it refers.
  3. Abstract:Act whose information obtained in a source record is logically organized through the use of distance restrictors in order to achieve its recovery, as well as its synthetic presentation.
  • The formation of Data Banks

Whose starting point can be systematized monthly files, either sectorized and comprehensive.

  • The use of (vocabular) languages ​​or information retrieval mechanisms supported by linguistic instruments

This branch of legal informatics is made up of legal information databases. To speak of legal informatics, it is necessary to identify the information, which in this case, would be the legal information, all that pertinent to the specific case; Having this, it is decisive to treat it through structuring with the application of logic, or argumentation, to later incorporate it into the computer using the appropriate linguistic instruments. The simple incorporation of legal texts into a computer will not be documentary legal informatics.

Legal management informatics

This branch of legal informatics is aimed at organizing and controlling the legal information of documents, files, books, etc., either through the application of administration programs that allow creating identifiers and descriptors for the classification of said information. This type of informatics is known as administration and / or control, it is used in courts, legal studies, notaries, among others; It is used above all to keep track of procedures and processes in order to keep the information updated and keep good control of it.


  1. Registry:this deals with all types of records, whether public or private. It is about providing reliable data to all users in all official records, quickly and easily.
  2. Operational: ittries to facilitate the performance and operation of law-related offices, both public and private, where it will allow the machine to carry all repetitive actions and control matters.
  3. Decisional: itis the use of predefined models for the adequate solution of specific and concrete cases, such as: the rejection of an extemporaneous procedural resource.

Decisional legal informatics

This branch is characterized by being made up of legal knowledge bases. It encompasses a great variety of efforts and projects that try to obtain from the applications of informatics to the Law, results that go beyond the retrieval of information, with the aim that the machine itself solves legal problems, or at least helps do so and constitute the advancement of legal theory.


  1. Legal expert systems: theyare the structuring of specialized knowledge that, coupled with the inference mechanism, draws conclusions from the information provided in the form of questions or answers. These expert systems can perform logical operations on the elements that comprise it, in addition to reasoning, by virtue of having a structured database. In short, these are systems capable of taking two or more information for the knowledge base, and producing a logical conclusion from them, the result of which was not foreseen by the expert, but is adopted by the system itself ( artificial intelligence ).
  2. Computer-assisted law teaching system:branch that has direct interaction with the subjects of law pedagogy, educational psychology , linguistics and communication , the purpose of which is to create teaching systems, whose implementation support is applied, in the first part; secondly, the knowledge bases to represent, organize, analyze and structure legal information; and finally, the formative evaluation of the process, teaching or learning foreseen in the system.

Thanks to the structuring of legal information, the teacher can define for sure the specific information that the student can learn. The student, on the other hand, acquires the learning in a logical and orderly way, so that the understanding of the specific objectives of the subject in question is guaranteed.

Supports for computer teaching-learning [2]

classifies the software for educational purposes into:

  • explicitly instructional software;
  • instructional support software;
  • tools for learning by exploration, simulation, games;
  • authoring / presentation tools;
  • multimediaand Virtual Reality .


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