Bringing Law to the Masses

Dave Kopel has an interesting piece in the Denver University Law Review on using blogs to bring law to the masses. Law is not a subject I knew much about until I started reading legal blogs, and then once I got into Second Amendment law, I devoured as much on the subject as I could read.

I think law is something that comes rather easily to engineers, since it’s basically just boolean logic system, but written in plain English. If (A || B || C) && !D && !E is true, you’re violating the statute. There is a system to it, and legal structures are less complicated than even simple microprocessors. Law also has obscure exceptions to generally given rules, which is something you also come across a lot in computer engineering. Computer engineers deal with bugs, just as judges must deal with poorly drafted legislation that yields absurd, clearly unintended results.

To a thought process that’s heavily oriented towards systems and logical structure, law provides, in many ways, much more interesting puzzles and conundrums. Unlike with circuits, where there’s just a right way and a wrong way to do things, law provides much more opportunity for philosophical exploration.

4 thoughts on “Bringing Law to the Masses”

  1. Yeah, but there is some weirdness in law, like it’s primarily word games.

    Funny thing: I scored a perfect score on the GRE logic portion of the test yet I almost failed the Philosophy 101 Logic class in college. ???? I never understood that. Math truth and wordy truth don’t appear to be the same things.

  2. After my first year of law school, I was ranked 18th out of about 180 freshmen. I went to my advisor and asked what was up – I had classmates who lived in the library and dreamed in Latin, whereas I seldom cracked a book.

    “What’s your background?”, he asked.

    “Uh, I have a masters in math,” I replied.

    “You won’t have any trouble,” he counseled. “The purpose of law school is not to teach law, because the law changes every day! The purpose of law school is to teach you to think like a lawyer! Deductive, contingencies, and alternatives.

    “We find that students who come from math, the physical sciences, or engineering make the best law students.

    “Those who come from the soft sciences – like psychology or sociology – and the business school are your average law students.

    “Those who come from liberal or fine arts, and here I’m talking history majors or people who have a degree in cello or Spanish, never really wrap their minds around the law.

    “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.”

  3. Being an engineer myself, I like you’re point that the law is easier to understand for engineers. What is most clear is understanding supposed “loopholes”. I have a mechanical engineering background and dealt with many ASME standards for manufacturing. What was always fun was when during the manufacturing something went wrong (mistaken machining, wrong material, etc.) and it was my job to figure out what (within the ASME code) we could do to correct the situation. Laws are no different. Probably 90-95% of all “loopholes” in laws, codes, regulations, etc. were put there on purpose. Not for nefarious reasons, usually for reasons like I came across: People are human, they make mistakes, lets not damn them for being human.

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