Published: 28 March 2022

Using Natural Language Processing to help people access justice

Researchers from the Centre for Translation Studies are using Natural Language Processing to improve people's access to justice.

Researchers from the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Surrey, in collaboration with lawyers from Monaco Solicitors, are investigating how the latest developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to enhance Virtual Lawyer (VL), an award-winning tool developed by Monaco Solicitors to help users write ‘without prejudice letters’ to their employers to negotiate a fair settlement agreement exit package deal after being badly treated at work. The current version of the app can help more than 500 people per week access justice, which earned VL the Law Society’s Award for Excellence in Technology and Innovation.  

The team from University of Surrey, led by Prof Constantin Orasan, will investigate ways in which NLP and AI technologies can improve the app further so that people are better able to understand and implement their legal rights freely. This will be achieved by analysing existing data to ensure that the templates and questions used by VL are comprehensive enough to cover all the relevant situations. Methods to fill in the templates will also be explored to generate letters that are better suited for each user of the app. As a result, VL will empower people to produce their own letters at no cost, and in some cases help them resolve their issues out of court. In addition, it will help combat discrimination at work by increasing access to justice. 

This collaboration is funded under the University of Surrey's SME Innovation Voucher Scheme which provides businesses with an introduction to working with the University and enables them to harness the University’s cutting-edge academic expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, explore complex challenges facing business, drive product innovation and accelerate growth.