Gillian Hadfield is a leading proponent of the reform and redesign of legal systems for a rapidly changing world facing tremendous challenge from globalization and technology. Her extensive research examines how to make law more accessible, effective, and capable of fulfilling its role in balancing innovation, growth, and fairness. Current challenges being explored include:

  • How can we develop regulatory systems to manage innovations like global digital platforms, self-driving cars, and powerful artificial intelligence systems?
  • How can we dismantle the regulatory barriers that make legal help for ordinary people too expensive and inaccessible?
  • How can we build better legal platforms for the four billion people in the world currently living without the benefits of stable rule of law?  

Hadfield 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.

Hadfield and her work have featured widely in the media and at key events on legal innovation and technology. Cited in the New York Times, The Atlantic and Forbes, Hadfield has also been published by the Washington Post, LA Times, Reuters and CNN. Her book, Rules for a Flat World:  Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy, was published by Oxford University Press in November 2016.

Born in Canada and a citizen of the US and the UK, Hadfield holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. Now based at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Rotman School of Management, 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.

Previously, she served as clerk to Chief Judge Patricia Wald on the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Chicago, Columbia, Toronto, NYU, and Hastings law schools, a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

She is also now teaching Legal Design Lab with Dan Ryan at the University of Toronto. Watch a video course description here:


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