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Big Data and Big Challenges for Law and Legal Information - Georgetown Law Library - A Symposium in Celebration of 125 Years - January 30, 2013

Panel 2: Big Data Applications in Scholarship and Policy I

Josh Blackman, Assistant Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law

Josh BlackmanAssisted Decisionmaking: Big Data and the Law

Professor Blackman will talk about how viewing the law as data can facilitate the analysis of how courts work and how courts decide cases. With this foundation, he will explore how attorneys can use this technology to improve the representation of their clients and how non-lawyers can obtain easier access to justice.

Josh Blackman is an Assistant Professor of Law at the South Texas College of Law, in Houston, Texas. Josh is also the founder and president of the Harlan Institute, the founder of, the Internet’s Premier Supreme Court Fantasy League, and blogs at He clerked for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and for the Honorable Kim R. Gibson on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Josh is a graduate of the George Mason University School of Law.

Carole Roan Gresenz, Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies

Carole Roan GresenzInnovative Use of Data: Health and Health Care

Dr. Gresenz will describe several examples of innovative uses of health and health care data and use these to highlight high-level issues associated with “big data.” She will discuss ways in which novel data and data analysis informed the allocation of tobacco settlement funds in the District of Columbia, and use this as an example of the tension between privacy concerns about geocoded data and the richness of information available to inform policymaking. Dr. Gresenz will also discuss opportunities and challenges associated with the use of health and health care data collected for business purposes, including but not limited to health insurance claims data, for research and policymaking. She will discuss issues related to maximizing institutional efficiency in the collection and analyses of these data.

Carole Roan Gresenz is the Jacobs Professor in the Department of Health Systems Administration. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Brown University and a B.A. in Economics from Loyola University Maryland. She joined Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies after nearly 20 years with the RAND Corporation, where she most recently held the positions of senior economist and Director of the Health Economics, Finance and Organization program. Her research interests and expertise include health care organization and finance, health disparities in medical care, and access to and quality of care among vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals and families, the uninsured, and individuals with disabling conditions. She has worked closely with city and county governments in the greater D.C. area on evaluations of local health care systems and programs. Dr. Gresenz is an adjunct senior economist at the RAND Corporation and serves on the editorial boards of Health Services Research and Medical Care Research and Review. She is also the former Associate Director of RAND’s Institute for Civil Justice.

Bill LeFurgy, Digital Initiatives Manager, National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, Library of Congress

Bill LeFurgyStewarding Big Data and Public Policy: Perspectives on Public Access to Federally Funded Scientific Research Data

In November 2011, the White House asked for public comment regarding “the specific objectives and public interests that need to be addressed by any policies” relating to access to digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. This provided a major opportunity for libraries, archives and other institutional data stewards to provide input about what the future should look like for the massive quantity of data generated through the support of the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. This presentation will discuss a high-level summary of the major points made in connection with data preservation and access.

Bill LeFurgy has worked for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress since June 2002. He leads the NDIIPP Communications Team, which interacts with a broad range of people interested in preserving access to digital information. In former lives, LeFurgy dealt with electronic records at the National Archives and Records Administration and served as Baltimore City Archivist and Records Management Officer. While he has memories of punch cards, monochrome monitors, and 30-pound portable computers, he is also an enthusiastic creator and consumer of social media. He has a B.A. degree in History from McGill University, as well as an M.L.S. and M.A. in History from the University of Maryland.

Kathy Zeiler, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

Kathy ZeilerThe National Practitioner Data Bank: Breakthroughs and Challenges

Studying the impact of the medical malpractice liability system on physicians and patients has been difficult due to the scarcity of claims data. In the late 1980s, Congress authorized the government to collect information related to sanctions applied by state licensing authorities against health care practitioners. A few years later, practitioners were required to report every closed medical malpractice claim. The purpose of the Data Bank is to facilitate a comprehensive review of the credentials of health care providers. While the Data Bank was created for use by insurers, hospitals and other entities that contract with providers, researchers have begun to use it to study the impacts of the liability system. Recent developments, however, have created challenges that provide a glimpse into general issues surrounding the use of government-collected data sets that researchers should keep in mind.

Professor Kathy Zeiler teaches Torts and Economic Analysis of Health Care Law, and co-directs the Georgetown Law & Economics Workshop. Her research focuses on health care law and economics, medical malpractice liability and insurance, disclosure regulation, experimental economics and behavioral law and economics. Before joining the faculty in 2003, she received a Ph.D. in Economics from the California Institute of Technology and a J.D. from the University of Southern California. She has been a visiting professor at NYU and Harvard Law School and has served as a Senior Academic Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center. She was a member of the board of directors of the American Law and Economics Association from 2010-12. She is currently a member of the Max Planck Institute’s Scientific Review Board for Research on Collective Goods.

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