A lawyer, economist and scholar, Gillian K. Hadfield has devoted much of her career to studying how legal systems can be improved to ensure they meet the needs of the people they are meant to serve. In her book, Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy, she argues that the complexity of today’s global, digital economy has pushed law to its limits, making it too expensive, too complicated, and too far out of touch with our needs.

In this episode of LawNext, host Bob Ambrogi speaks with Hadfield about her book and her proposals for reinventing the legal system. They also discuss her ideas for addressing the access-to-justice gap, her recent research on ensuring the safety of artificial intelligence, her belief that private investment is essential to sparking innovation in law, and her work with the Utah Supreme Court to launch a regulatory sandbox to test many of her theories.

With both a J.D. from Stanford Law School and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University, Hadfield is currently based at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Rotman School of Management, where she teaches courses in legal innovation and design, responsible development and governance of AI, the origins and evolution of the law, and contract law and strategy.

She is a faculty affiliate at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Toronto and the Center for Human-Compatible AI at the University of California, Berkeley. She has served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Technology, Values and Policy and Global Agenda Council on Justice and co-curates the Forum’s Transformation Map for Justice and Legal Infrastructure.

She was appointed in 2017 to the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Education and is a member of the World Justice Project’s Research Consortium. She serves as an advisor to The Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law, LegalZoom, and other legal tech startups.


We are now on Patreon! Subscribe to our page to be able to access show transcripts, or to submit a question for our guests.

Comment on this show: Record a voice comment on your mobile phone and send it to info@lawnext.com.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.