Introducing the Legal Priorities Project

We’re excited to introduce a new EA organization: the Legal Priorities Project.

About us

The Legal Priorities Project is an independent, global research project founded by researchers from Harvard University. Our mission is to conduct legal research that tackles the world’s most pressing problems. This currently leads us to focus on the protection of future generations.

The project is led by Christoph Winter (ITAM/​Harvard); the other founding team members are Cullen O’Keefe (OpenAI/​GovAI), Eric Martínez (MIT), and Jonas Schuett (Goethe University Frankfurt). For more information about our team, visit our website.

The idea was born at the EA group at Harvard Law School in Fall 2018. Since then, we raised two rounds of funding from Ben Delo at the advice of Effective Giving, built a highly motivated and mission-aligned core team, registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hosted a seminar at Harvard Law School, and organized our first summer research fellowship. Besides that, we worked on our research agenda and a number of other research projects.

We’re currently assessing the desirability and feasibility of having a formal affiliation with a university. We consider founding a center or institute at a leading law school in the US or UK within the coming 2 years.

Our research

We aim to establish “legal priorities research” as a new research field. At the meta-level, we determine which problems legal scholars should work on in order to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. At the object-level, we conduct legal research on the identified problems.

Our approach to legal priorities research is influenced by the longtermism paradigm. Consequently, we are currently focusing on the following cause areas: (1) improving the governance of advanced artificial intelligence, (2) mitigating risks from synthetic biology, (3) mitigating extreme risks from climate change, and (4) improving institutional design and decision-making.

Legal priorities research can be viewed as a subset of global priorities research. While global priorities research is located at the intersection of philosophy and economics, legal priorities research focuses primarily on legal studies, although it is still highly interdisciplinary.

We are currently working on a research agenda for legal priorities research. The agenda will be divided by cause areas and will contain a list of promising research projects for legal scholars. We hope to publish the agenda in December 2020. Sign up to our newsletter, if you want to receive an email when it gets published.

We are also working on a number of object-level research projects. Please get in touch, if you want to collaborate with us on future research projects. You may also want to fill out our expression of interest form.

Further information