Sun 16 Jan 2022 14:10 - 14:30 at Salon III - Long talks #3 Chair(s): Jonathan Protzenko

While some legal rules are formulated precisely enough to be implemented as programs, much of the law today is far from being computable. Given the similarities between law and software, however, even if legal rules are not currently computational in nature, we can leverage principles from computer science to assess their quality and pinpoint potential improvements. Therefore, adapting the idea of code smells from the software engineering subfield of refactoring, we initiate the study of law smells, i.e., patterns in legal texts that pose threats to the comprehensibility and maintainability of the law. With five intuitive law smells as running examples – namely, duplicated phrase, long element, large reference tree, ambiguous syntax, and natural language obsession –, we develop a comprehensive law smell taxonomy. This taxonomy classifies law smells by when they can be detected (static vs. dynamic), which aspects of law they relate to (e.g., structure or grammar), and how they can be discovered (local vs. non-local). We introduce text-based and graph-based methods to identify instances of law smells, confirming their utility in practice using the United States Code as a test case. Our work demonstrates how ideas from software engineering can be leveraged to assess and improve the quality of legal code, thus drawing attention to an underappreciated area in the intersection of law and computer science.

Sun 16 Jan

Displayed time zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada) change

14:10 - 14:50
Long talks #3ProLaLa at Salon III
Chair(s): Jonathan Protzenko Microsoft Research, Redmond
Law Smells: Defining and Detecting Problematic Patterns in Legal DraftingRemote
Corinna Coupette Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Saarbrücken, Germany, Dirk Hartung Center for Legal Technology and Data Science, Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany, Janis Beckedorf Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, Maximilian Böther Hasso Plattner Institute, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany, Daniel Martin Katz Illinois Tech – Chicago Kent College of Law, Chicago, IL, USA
Pre-print File Attached
Cod(e)ifying The LawInPerson
Nel Escher University of Michigan, Jeffrey Bilik University of Michigan, Alexander Miller University of Michigan, Jennifer Jiyoung Huseby University of Michigan, Divya Ramesh University of Michigan, Alice Liu University of Michigan, Sam Mikell University of Michigan, Nina Cahill University of Michigan, Ben Green University of Michigan, Nikola Banovic University of Michigan
File Attached