Ryan Whalen

Welcome to ryanwhalen.com. I'm a faculty member at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law. My research interest areas include innovation policy, information policy, intellectual property law, and legal technology. I'm especially interested in computational analysis of legal systems and demonstrating ways to inform policy design via empirical analysis. I hold a JD from Northwestern Law and a PhD in Media, Technology & Society from Northwestern University.

I'm Canadian born, where I did my BA(hons) in history at Saint Mary's University. Prior to moving to Chicago to study at Northwestern I completed my MA at National Chengchi University in Taipei. Before I attended university I worked around the world as a juggler, actor and entertainer. Below you will find some recent blog posts, details about some of my research, and my contact details.

Recent Blog Posts

Dec 0
Dec 0

Upcoming Computational Legal Studies Workshop at HKU

We’re excited to be hosting a workshop focusing on Computational Legal Studies here at HKU next June (http://www.lawtech.hk/cfp-computational-legal-studies-2018). Details from the CFP below. We’ve already put together an exciting bunch of researchers. Don’t hesitate to submit something if you’d like to attend. CFP: The Emergence of Computational Legal Studies: The Promises and Challenges of Data-Driven […]

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Nov 2
Nov 2

Legal Scholarship Network Research Production & Consumption

There are hundreds of thousands of papers “published” in LSN e-journals. These papers have the potential to provide a great deal of insight into the production and consumption of legal academic research. I’ve been interested in this data for a while, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally found some time to dig […]

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Feb 3
Feb 3

Law School Lateral Hiring

I was recently asked about lateral hiring at American law schools. I pointed the questioner to lists of lateral hires available both at Brian Leiter’s blog, and those made by Dan Filler at ConcurringOpinions, and TheFacultyLounge. These are very useful sources of information, but a bunch of annual lists can be hard to make sense of. […]

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Jun 0
Jun 0

The #CongreSSH2016 twitter-sphere

I’m currently at the airport, waiting to board my flight back from the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Calgary. Congress is a sort of super-conference where over 70 scholarly associations simultaneously hold their annual conventions. For those who aren’t Canadian academics, the concept might seem a bit foreign, but it works well in practice. […]

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Justice SMOG Distributions
Nov 1
Nov 1

Judicial Gobbledygook.

I published a short essay in the Yale Law Journal forum recently: http://www.yalelawjournal.org/pdf/Whalen_PDF_5spbaaeu.pdf. I thought I’d slightly supplement the content available there by posting the interactive charts here: Here’s an overall plot of mean SMOG since 1946:     A plot of the mean intra-judge z-score by years of tenure: Each judge’s yearly intra-judge SMOG […]

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Mar 1
Mar 1

The Supreme Court Advocacy Network

This is the third (and likely last for a while) in a series of legal network posts. The first explored legal academic co-authoring relationships. The second mapped the law prof twitter network. Below you’ll find a network representing the advocacy relationships between lawyers who have argued cases at the Supreme Court. For some years now, […]

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News & Research

My work uses computational social science methods to explore questions relevant to those interested in the law and innovation policy. My research is data-driven and relies extensively on computational methods, network analysis and natural language processing. You'll find details below on some selected presentations, publications, and activities
  • 2018

Complex Innovation and the Patent System, 17 Chicago–Kent Journal of Intellectual Property 1 (2018).

Priority Queuing on the Docket: Universality of Judicial Dispute Resolution Timing. Frontiers in Physics: Interdisciplinary Physics (special research topic—Law as a Natural Phenomenon: The Empirical Investigation of the Legal Universe between Complexity, Biology, and Computation) (2018).

  • 2017

Assumed faculty position at University of Hong Kong

Common Law Evolution and Judicial Impact in the Age of Information 8 Elon Law Review 3 (2017) (with Brian Uzzi, and Satyam Mukherjee)

"Opening Up Canadian Innovation Data," Policy Options (Feb. 2017).

  • 2016

Explorative Knowledge Search, Innovation & Inventor Teams, presentation at International Conference on Computational Social Science (IC2S2) (with Noshir Contractor).

Legal Evolution: Temporal Patterns of Precedent Citation and Judicial Opinion Impact, presentation at International Conference on Computational Social Science (IC2S2) (with Brian Uzzi, and Satyam Mukherjee).

Legal Networks: The Promises and Challenges of Legal Network Analysis, Michigan State Law Review (forthcoming)

An Innovative Canada Needs an Innovative Information Policy, Op-Ed: University Affairs (April, 2016).

"Citation Distance: Measuring Knowledge Translation, Integration, Diffusion, and Scope", Canadian Association for Information Science Annual Conference, Calgary AB (with Noshir Contractor).

“Patent Citation Distance: Measuring Trends in Combinatorial Innovation,” presentation at INSNA Sunbelt Conference 2016, Newport Beach (with Noshir Contractor).

“Citation Distance: Measuring Changes in Scientific Search Strategies,” presentation at 3rd Annual ACM Big Scholar Workshop, Montreal (with Yun Huang, Craig Tanis, Anup Sawant, Brian Uzzi, and Noshir Contractor).

  • 2015

Second-Order Obviousness: How Information and Communication Technologies Make Inventions More Obvious and Why the Law Should Care, 4 JOURNAL OF THE PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE SOCIETY 597

Judicial Gobbledgygook: The Readability of Supreme Court Opinions, 125 YALE LAW JOURNAL FORUM 200.

"Legal Networks: The Promises & Challenges of Legal Network Analyses," Presented as an invited participant at the Michigan State College of Law Legal Quanta symposium

"Patent Application Citations and the Examination Process: A Network-Based Date-Sensitive Method to Analyze Patent Applications," Presented at the Law & Big Data Workshop at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Law (ICAIL 2015), University of San Diego.

“Boundary Spanning Patent Applications, Teams and the Patent Examination Process,” Presented at the Science of Team Science, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD, (with Noshir Contractor).

"Automated Detection of Perfunctory Citations: Nuancing Impact Factors and Weighting Citation Networks to Account for Citation Heterogeneity," Presented at INSNA Sunbelt 2015, Brighton, UK (with Yun Huang, Anup Sawant, & Noshir Contractor).

"Natural Language Processing, Article Content & Bibliometrics: Predicting High Impact Science," Presented at Analyzing Scholarly Communication on the Web at ACM WebSci 2015, Oxford University.

Invited Participant - Predicting Legal Outcomes Workshop at Codex - Stanford Law School Center for Legal Informatics.

Will the Agencies Ever Go Marching In? Public Rights in Federally-Funded Inventions, 109 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 1083.

  • 2014

Bad Law Before it Goes Bad: Citation Networks and the Life Cycle of Overruled Precedent, in NETWORK ANALYSIS IN LAW, Radboud Winkels et al. eds., ESI Law, Science & Technology Series.

Served as Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern University Law Review

Attended the Virtual School of Computational Science and Engineering (VSCSE) Data Intensive Summer School at the University of Chicago

  • 2013

Modeling Annual Supreme Court Influence: The Role of Citation Practices and Judicial Tenure in Determining Precedent Network Growth, in COMPLEX NETWORKS, A. Evuskoff et. al eds., Springer Verlag Studies in Computational Intelligence Series.

The U.S. Government as an Interagency Network, 4 INTERAGENCY JOURNAL 69

Attended the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) Complex Systems Modeling and Networks course

  • 2012

“Legal Complexity: Measuring complexity within the Supreme Court precedent network and predicting network growth,” invited talk at Argonne National Laboratory – Laboratory for Advanced Numerical Simulation.

“Organizational structure as a multiplex network: The case of the US federal government.” International Communication Association. Phoenix, AZ.

“Reconceptualizing Precedent Depreciation: Using tree network growth to measure and compare court decisions.” International Network for Social Network Analysis. Redondo Beach, CA.

  • 2011

"Government Agency Network Discovery via Hyperlinks and Datalinks,” WebSci, Koblenz, Germany (with Ding Li, Noshir Contractor, & Deborah McGuinness).

Attended the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Large Scale Network Analysis course