Law School in a Nutshell, Part 1
by James Grimmelmann : Lawyers spend years learning to read and write legalese, and James makes a striking correlation between legal writing and a programming language.
To understand why legalese is so incomprehensible, think about it as the programming language Legal. It may have been clean and simple once, but that was before it suffered from a thousand years of feature creep and cut-and-paste coding. Sure, Legal is filled with bizzare keywords, strange syntax, and hideous redundancy, but what large piece of software isn't? Underneath the layers of cruft, serious work is taking place.
For the rest of the article, James goes page by page and takes you through the intricacies and minutiae of a legale brief (for Eldred v. Ashcroft
). Its only the first part, but its informative and well written. Another interesting note, as commented at the bottom of the page:
If "$plain_text = $file_key ^ $xor_block" seems unapproachable, consider what those not trained in the language of legal citation would make of "111 F.Supp.2d 294, 326 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)." Each is meaningless to those unfamiliar with the language; but each is more precise and compact for those who do understand than would be an English narrative equivalent. -- James S. Tyre, Programmers' & Academics' Amici Brief in "MPAA v. 2600" Case
Updates: Part II
and Part III