611.54 Readings in Algorithms and the Law

Algorithms are everywhere. Governments use algorithms to administer the law—from operating benefits programs to managing voter rolls to detecting and punishing criminal activity. Companies use algorithms to respond to, comply with, or avoid legal requirements: algorithms determine the content you see online, your ability to access credit or housing, and the prices you pay for goods and services.  

This one-credit class will introduce law students to algorithms—what they are, and how they interact with law, and what future lawyers need to know about them. Via in-class simulations and short assignments, students will design, use, and critique examples of algorithms deployed in and around the law.

By the end of this course, students will have a foundational understanding of what algorithms are and how they come to be, as both a technical and a social concept. They will be able to recognize issues that may arise as algorithms are deployed in legal contexts: e.g., harm to people, changes in behavior, shifts in power, or unexpected outcomes. And, they will have gained exposure to a wide variety of algorithms in law and legal practice.

No technical background is required to take this class.  

Special Notes:


Will meet from 1/16-3/7, 8:45-10:45AM

Spring 2024

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Class participation
Keith Porcaro
Canvas site: https://canvas.duke.edu/courses/29266
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice