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Open Source

Attorney Jim Hazard is Working to Open-Source Law (Video) 58

Posted by timothy
from the laws-are-sort-of-a-kind-of-source-code dept.
Jim Hazard is a lawyer who leans geek; since he got his law degree in 1979, he's been the guy in the office who could make sense of things technical more often than others could, and dates his interest in regularizing complex legal documents (and making them a bit *less* complex) back to the era where Wang word processors were being replaced with personal computers. Most documents -- no matter how similar to each other, and how much work was spent in re-creating similar parts -- were "pickled" in proprietary formats that didn't lend themselves to labor-saving generalization and abstraction. That didn't sit well with Jim, and (in the spirit of Larry Lessig's declaration that "law is code," Hazard has been working for years to translate some of the best practices and tools of programmers (like code re-use, version control systems, and hierarchies of variables) to the field of law, in particular to contract formation. (Think about how many contracts you're party to; in modern life, there are probably quite a few.) He calls his endeavor Common Accord, and he'd like to see it bring the benefits of open source to both lawyers and their clients.



Transcript is 24 - 48 hours late

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Attorney Jim Hazard is Working to Open-Source Law (Video)

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  • by iggymanz (596061) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @05:18PM (#44385547)

    how did an inline image for the flash link get through the slashdot submission process? hell, anything with any kind of multimedia should be blocked, only a simple link with text between tags should be allowed.

    gah! that was awful. let's keep the format clean.

  • It's a Losing Battle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zordak (123132) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @05:41PM (#44385749) Homepage Journal

    Now that I'm semi-solo, I have a Git repository for all my client files. I wrote a bunch of LaTeX class and style files to make beautiful patents, pleadings, and contracts. I write patents in vi (well, Vim) when I can get away with it. But when I was at a big firm, I spent fruitless years trying to convince lawyers that there is a better way than using kludged, recycled Word files, or at least trying to convince them to use Word's style functionality instead of manually reformatting the same flipping document EVERY SINGLE TIME. All in vain. Heck, I'd be happy if I could finally convince other lawyers that underlining is not a legitimate typesetting operation and is an embarrassing holdover from the days of typewriters (along with two spaces after a period).

    One thing I've learned about lawyers it that most old lawyers learned how to do something back in 1978 or so, and believe it is the One Right Way. Those lawyers learned the One Right Way from other lawyers who learned it in the 30s. If I were king of the world, I would force every lawyer in America to get a copy of Butterick's book Typography for Lawyers [typographyforlawyers.com] and Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage [amazon.com], read them cover to cover, and treat them as though they were the inviolable word of God, handed down in stone from the peak of Mt. Carmel. I am so sick of looking at ugly legal documents.

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