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Unpublished Paper
Applying Software Development Techniques to Statutory Drafting
  • Hyun G Lee, Boston University

This note will examine three characteristics common in poor statutory drafting: legalese, ambiguity, and poor conceptual organization. Legalese is the arcane, lawyerly language that is hard to understand for the layperson. Some common-sense solutions can counter the use of legalese. Ambiguity, which can be either semantic or syntactic, is the uncertainty due to the multiple valid interpretations of the statute. Normalization technique, adapted from the mathematical notation of symbolic logic, can eliminate most ambiguities. Poor conceptual organization results in conceptually related topics physically scattered throughout the statute. Hypertext, legal dialectic, and object-oriented analysis and design are possible solutions to this problem. These characteristics and the solutions are described in more detail in Part II.

Part III examines the parallels between statutory drafting and software development. These parallels suggest that there may be other software development methods that are helpful in statutory drafting. There are, of course, many differences between these two disciplines, so every software development tool or method must be evaluated on whether or not it will work in statutory drafting. Part IV will outline requirements for evaluating the suitability of software development tools and methods for statutory drafting. Part V will evaluate different software development tools based on these requirements, and Part VI will evaluate different methods. Finally, Part VII will summarize the findings and suggest the software development tools and methods that are best suited for statutory drafting.

Publication Date
Citation Information
Hyun G Lee. "Applying Software Development Techniques to Statutory Drafting" (2015)
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