Vanderbilt Law School recently launched an exciting new initiative called the Vanderbilt AI Legal Lab (VAILL) to explore how artificial intelligence can transform legal services and access to justice. In this episode, we spoke with VAILL’s leadership – Cat Moon,(👑) Director of Innovation at Vanderbilt’s Program on Law and Innovation (PoLI), and Mark Williams, Associate Director for Collections and Innovation at the Massey Law Library – about their vision for this pioneering lab.
VAILL’s mission is to harness AI to expand access to legal knowledge and services, with a particular focus on leveraging generative AI to improve legal service delivery. As Moon described, VAILL aims to experiment, collaborate widely, and build solutions to realize AI’s potential in the legal domain. The lab will leverage Vanderbilt’s cross-disciplinary strengths, drawing on experts in computer science, engineering, philosophy, and other fields to inform their ethically-grounded, human-centered approach.
VAILL is prioritizing partnerships across sectors – courts, law firms, legal aid organizations, alternative providers, and others – to test ideas and develop prototype AI applications that solve real legal needs. For instance, they plan to co-create solutions with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Innovation Lab to expand access to justice. Moon explained that generative AI presents solutions for some legal challenges, so VAILL hopes to match developing technological capabilities with organizations’ needs.
Ethics are foundational to VAILL’s work. Students will learn both practical uses of AI in law practice as well as broader policy and social implications. As Williams emphasized, beyond core professional responsibility issues, VAILL aims to empower students to lead in shaping AI’s societal impacts through deeper engagement with questions around data, access, and algorithms. Teaching ethical, creative mindsets is VAILL’s ultimate opportunity.
VAILL will leverage the resources and expertise of Vanderbilt’s law librarians to critically assess new AI tools from their unique perspective. Williams noted that the lab sees law students as a “risk free” testing ground for innovations, while also equipping them with adaptable learning capabilities to keep pace with AI’s rapid evolution. Rather than viewing AI as a differentiator, VAILL’s goal is producing legally-skilled innovators ready to thrive amidst ongoing change.
Vanderbilt’s AI Legal Lab represents an exciting development in exploring AI’s legal impacts. By emphasizing human-centered, ethical approaches and collaborations, VAILL aims to pioneer solutions that expand access to legal knowledge and services for all. We look forward to seeing the innovative applications VAILL develops at the intersection of law and AI.
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