Law is code… and it desperately needs refactoring!

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. Actually – what and how to write about it has been darned tricky. It’s about the Law. Our “Legal Code”. Interestingly, they use some of the same terminology – that it’s code and there’s plenty of parallels that have already been drawn there.

But what really sparked this off was the combination of really reading a license agreement (VMWare’s Server EULA, if you are curious), having recently signed a lease, and thinking back to a conversation with Nathan about how many dense, annoying, and obtuse pieces of paperwork you need to sign to purchase property.

I think anyone who has learned a few programming languages will easily take a look at a legal document and see how that sort of matches in. The downside is that the programming language (in this country anyway) is english – and it’s a shitty language for explicit instructions. Another downside is that us monkeys don’t readily take to explicit instructions, so there’s the dreaded compiler problem: interpretation.

Now look at signing a lease or (worse) the paperwork needed to purchase a property. Read some of that shit. It’s an aggregation of patch on top of patch on top of patch. Everything that has fucked up previously has had a “test” written for it, and it becomes another piece of paper that you have to wade through and deal with it.

Nathan had the brilliant and twisted idea that we should sue some poor sumbitch for giving us writer’s cramp in signing all that damn stuff, and try and force a contradictory “legal test” that would reduce the mile high paper load. More concretely, I wonder if a suit against that process that we can’t freakin’ understand it anymore has validity? Lawyers are sort of alternate compilers for this crap, and they combined with a judge or jury make up the results of that program.

What’s really bad about all this is the virii that inhabit so many legal documents. Yep, virii. Look at some of the really amazingly stupid shit you have to sign when you get a job. Legal contracts, binding you to often unenforceable positions. What the fuck? That’s why I think it needs some significant refactoring. God knows how that should happen – I’m not that brilliant on Law myself, but it sure seems to need it.

In the meantime, get a good virus scanner…. cause those legal virii are vicious!

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

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