Flattening the Legal Tower of Babel

Today it is a mantra that the legal profession is going global and the world is becoming flat, yet the law remains the poster child for parochial national divisions — every country and jurisdiction has its own law, with its own structure, in its own language. This creates greater barriers to global legal cooperation and competition than any tariff or policy ever could.

I will discuss how using a meaning-based language to express basic legal concepts could allow a computational approach to creating a universal legal translator. I’ll also discuss a possible first step of this project — building an open source statutory taxonomy — and consider its huge implications for legal research and comparative law. Finally, we’ll consider what this all means for competition and public policy.