The Digital Legal Systems Lab

Brainbox is supporting the foundation of a lab for building digital systems that perform legal tasks.

New Zealand needs a place to explore how law is implemented in digital systems. That place is the Digital Legal Systems Lab.

In 2021 we published a legal research report on “legislation as code”. We looked at the global “rules as code” movement. New Zealanders were leading a revitalised global discussion on how to implement law in computer systems, as computer code.


Law is increasingly implemented through digital systems. The use of law in code and the use of code as law has positive potential, as well as risks, but the space is dominated by theoretical discussions. It desperately needs to be developed through applied case studies.

The best next step is to develop the Digital Legal Systems Lab, a place where the work to build and test digital legal systems can take place.

We’re already receiving lots of interest from people who want to be a part of this. Some have told us they are ready to leave their jobs and join. They see how impactful the work will be, and how the DLS Lab will be a hub for collaboration among people with wide-ranging skills and expertise.

The Lab will have a digital, physical, legal and institutional presence. It will be based on a partnership between key stakeholder sectors, including government, academia, the private sector, and non-government entities. The outputs will include operable digital legal systems, as well as wider insights about what works, what doesn’t, and why.

The Lab must be a durable launch-pad for long term activity.

We are inviting you to contribute to how the Lab is established. In particular, we are seeking your input as follows.

  1. Written expressions of interest in the concept.

  2. Written expressions of interest in contributing to set up, including on matters like legal structure, financial support, professional experience, or similar.

  3. Written expressions of interest in bringing real case studies or policy problems to the lab for resolution.