The AI & Law Community Mourns the Loss of Carole Hafner

Researcher, scholar, educator, facilitator, collaborator, community-minded human being. These are but a few of the expressions we would use to describe Carole Hafner, a doyenne of our field. Carole passed away on Sunday, April 5, 2015, following a prolonged illness. It is with deep sadness that we share the news of Carole’s death as she was a long-standing proponent and active participant in Artificial Intelligence and Law community.

Carole completed one of the first PhD theses in Artificial Intelligence and Law. Her dissertation, from the University of Michigan in 1981, was titled An Information Retrieval System Based on a Computer Model of Legal Knowledge. Carole continued to pursue state-of-the-art approaches to conceptual information retrieval following her graduate studies. She joined the faculty at Northeastern University, where she formed a particularly productive relationship with her distinguished colleague, Professor Don Berman. In 1989, one of their joint articles was featured in a special edition of the Communications of the ACM that focused on the social aspects of computing: “The Potential of Artificial Intelligence to Help Solve the Crisis in our Legal System,” 32(8), 928-938. The paper led to the founding of the journal Artificial Intelligence and Law, which began publication in 1992 with Carole and Don as its first co-editors.

Carole also served as the chair of the very first ICAIL conference, held in May of 1987 in Boston at Northeastern. At early ICAILs, Carole and Don conducted tutorials on the field of AI and Law. Most importantly, they went on to co-author an acclaimed trilogy of ICAIL papers on case-based reasoning. These papers, published in 1991, 1993, and 1995, articulated important aspects of real-world legal reasoning and problem solving that were largely absent from earlier CBR and argumentation models: the dependence of the precedential force of judicial decisions on (1) the procedural context in which the decision is made, (2) the rationale underlying the decision, and (3) the evolving network of other decisions that over time can extend or erode aspects of a decision's holding. At several later ICAILs, Carole again gave introductory tutorials. It was important to Carole to welcome new faces to the community and share her passion about enticing aspects of the field. She served as Program Chair at the 12th ICAIL, held in Barcelona in 2009.

Carole was the “moving force” behind both the ICAIL conference and our organization, IAAIL, which was established in 1992 to provide the institutional structure to manage the conferences. She served as Secretary-Treasurer of IAAIL from its inception. At the last ICAIL that Carole attended, in Pittsburgh, the IAAIL organization gave her a lifetime service award, which noted: “On the occasion of the Thirteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law, ICAIL 2011, the International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law recognizes Prof. Carole D. Hafner for her tireless efforts in organizing and sustaining the Conference, the Association and the journal of Artificial Intelligence and Law. June 8, 2011." We will be sharing a special tribute to Carole in the near future. We send our sincerest condolences to her family and friends. We will miss her dearly.

On behalf of the IAAIL Executive Committee
Jack Conrad
Thanks to Kevin Ashley, Karl Branting, Anne Gardner and Thorne McCarty for their contributions.

A tribute to Jon Bing (January 14th, 2014)

It is with great sadness that we report the death of our colleague Jon Bing, who passed away on January 14, 2014 following a prolonged period of illness.

The Artificial Intelligence and Law community has lost one of its founding fathers, a Norwegian writer and law professor at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law (NRCCL) and the Faculty of Law at the Univ. of Oslo. In addition to longstanding involvement with the AI and Law community, Jon co-chaired ICAIL 1999 in Oslo along with Andrew Jones. He was also a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. We send our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

With fond memories of Jon, we are pleased to provide links to two short papers by Jon Bing, which provide a glimpse of his extraordinary interests and talents. One, entitled "The Riddle of the Robots,", draws upon his experience as a science fiction writer. The other, entitled "Computers and Law: Some Beginnings,", draws upon his experience as one of the pioneers in this field.

IAAIL - The International Association for Artificial Intelligence and Law

A Tribute to Donald Berman

The artificial intelligence and law community lost one of its most distinguished members when Donald H. Berman, founder of co-editor of AI and Law journal, died of cancer on June 20, 1997, at 62. Don was a Professor of Law and co-director of the Center for Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University, and the author of many articles
on AI and law. He was known to his colleagues and students as an insightful reviewer and critic who generously gave his time as an editor to help authors improve their work; as a creative researcher who broke new ground in understanding the potential and the problems inherent in creating and using legal knowledge-based systems; and a highly entertaining lecturer who enjoyed teaching about AI and law.

Don was born in Portland, Maine, to a family of lawyers including his father and three uncles. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, served two years as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and later practiced law with his father and uncle in Maine, and with Sullivan and Worcester in Boston. Don also served as a law clerk for Justice Spalding of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and received the L.L.M. degree in taxation from Harvard Law School. In 1968, Don joined the faculty of Northeastern University as one of the founding members of its new law school. He relished the opportunity to participate in creating an innovative program of co-operative legal education combining traditional classroom studies with professional work experience. His teaching included courses on property law, intellectual property, and taxation law, as well as AI and law.

In the early 1980’s, Don became fascinated by personal computers, intuitively recognizing the profound impact computer-generated documents, telecommunications, and knowledge-based systems could have on the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. At the same time, he became equally fascinated by artificial intelligence, and the insights about human reasoning he found in the AI and cognitive science literature. In 1985, he and Carole Hafner, a member of the computer science faculty at Northeastern University, began a research and teaching collaboration that lasted until Don’s death. Among AI and Law researchers, Don stood out for his broad knowledge of many different areas of law, his mastery of the complexities of legal reasoning, and his unequalled understanding of the institutional context within which legal experts must operate. With Carole Hafner he published a series of articles on case-based legal reasoning, arguing that contextual and teleological aspects of legal decisions must be considered in selecting precedents, in addition to factual similarity, and proposing techniques for formalizing this additional knowledge to support improved models of case-based legal argument. These papers remain influential more than twenty years later. He and Carole were key figures in establishing the biennial ICAIL conferences.

As much as Don’s professional contributions to the AI and law field have been missed, his personal qualities have been missed even more: his wit, his love of a good argument, his eagerness to learn something new and his quickness to give credit to others, his unfailing kindness and good humor. He loved to travel, and was an enthusiastic participant at international conferences.

This is an abridged version of a tribute which appeared in AI and Law journal Volume 5 Issue 3 (1997), pages 177-178.

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