7 … Evidence-Based Jurisprudence meets Legal Linguistics. Unlikely Blends Made in Germany, BYU L. Rev. 43 (2018), S. 14731501, gemeinsam mit Friedemann VogelGerman legal thinking is infamous for its hair-splittingly sophisticated dogmatism. Some of its other research contributions are frequently overlooked, both at home and abroad. Two such secondary streams recently coalesced into a new corpus-based research approach to legal practice: Empirical legal research (which had blossomed in Germany already by 1913) and research on language and law (following German pragmatist philosopher Wittgenstein 1922). The article introduces these research traditions in their current German incarnations (Evidence-Based Jurisprudence and Legal Linguistics) and shows how three common features – their proclaimed pragmatism, their skepticism towards legal authority and their big data strategy – inspired a new corpus-based research agenda: Computer Assisted Legal Linguistics (CAL²). Law and language can be described as complex institutions with emergent properties, like intricate fabrics woven from single-colored fibers. This metaphor suggests to think of legal language in terms of “patterns”: Recurrent motifs in the fabric that the individual language user may not (and in most cases cannot) be aware of, though they explain the development of language more coherently than any narrative based on a priori rules. This perspective corresponds with the recent trend towards computer linguistics using “text as data”. To discuss how these approaches might impact research on the language of law, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities hosted the first international conference on “The Fabric of Language and Law” from the perspective of legal corpus linguistics. Selected papers presented at this meeting in March 2016 were subsequently peer-reviewed and published in an eponymous volume of the International Journal of Language & Law (JLL), edited by the present authors as convenors of the conference. This special issue introduction elaborates on the topic of this meeting, summarizes its contributions, and contextualises the publications that resulted from it. The authors hope that this exchange, which has meanwhile been continued across the Atlantic, may help to establish an international network for research on Computer Assisted Legal Linguistics (CAL²).
5 … Computer-Assisted Legal Linguistics. Corpus Analysis as a New Tool for Legal Studies, Law & Soc. Inq. 42 (2017), S. 124, gemeinsam mit Friedemann Vogel / Isabelle GauerLaw exists solely in and through language. Nonetheless, systematical empirical analysis of legal language has been rare. Yet, the tides are turning: After judges at various courts (including the US Supreme Court) have championed a method of analysis called corpus linguistics, the Michigan Supreme Court held in June 2016 that this method “is consistent with how courts have understood statutory interpretation.” The court illustrated how corpus analysis can benefit legal casework, thus sanctifying twenty years of previous research into the matter. The present article synthesizes this research and introduces computer-assisted legal linguistics (CAL2) as a novel approach to legal studies. Computer-supported analysis of carefully preprocessed collections of legal texts lets lawyers analyze legal semantics, language, and sociosemiotics in different working contexts (judiciary, legislature, legal academia). The article introduces the interdisciplinary CAL2 research group (www.cal2.eu), its Corpus of German Law, and other related projects that make law more transparent.
4 … The Hog Cycle of Law Professors. An Econometric Time Series Analysis of the Entry-level Job Market in Legal Academia, PLoS ONE 11 (2016), Nr. e0159815 & e0168041, S. 122, gemeinsam mit Christoph EngelThe (German) market for law professors fulfils the conditions for a hog cycle: In the short run, supply cannot be extended or limited; future law professors must be hired soon after they first present themselves, or leave the market; demand is inelastic. Using a comprehensive German dataset, we show that the number of market entries today is negatively correlated with the number of market entries eight years ago. This suggests short-sighted behavior of young scholars at the time when they decide to prepare for the market. Using our statistical model, we make out-of-sample predictions for the German academic market in law until 2020.
3 … “Begin at the beginning”. Lawyers and Linguists Together in Wonderland, Winnower 3 (2016), Nr. 4919, S. 19, gemeinsam mit Friedemann Vogel / Dieter Stein / Andreas Abegg / Łucja Biel / Lawrence M. SolanWhat do patterns in legal language tell us about power, policy and justice? This question was at the heart of a conference on “The Fabric of Language and Law: Discovering Patterns through Legal Corpus Linguistics”, convened in March 2016 by the international research group “Computer Assisted Legal Linguistics” (CAL²) under the auspices of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. About forty scholars from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Spain and the US brought together their different intellectual and disciplinary perspectives on computational linguistics and legal thinking. Concluding the conference, four legal linguistics experts – two native linguists, two native lawyers – discussed the perspectives and limitations of computer-assisted legal linguistics. Their debate, which this article faithfully reproduces, touches on some of the essential epistemological issues of interdisciplinary research and evidence-based policy, and marks the way forward for legal corpus linguistics.
2 … Cui Bono, Benefit Corporation? An Experiment Inspired by Social Enterprise Legislation in Germany and the US, RLE 11 (2015), S. 79110, gemeinsam mit Sven Fischer / Sebastian J. GoergHow do barely incentivized norms impact incentive-rich environments? We take social enterprise legislation as a case in point. It establishes rules on behalf of constituencies that have no institutionalized means of enforcing them. By relying primarily on managers' other-regarding concerns whilst leaving corporate incentive structures unaltered, how effective can such legislation be? This question is vital for the ongoing debate about social enterprise forms, as recently introduced in several US states and in British Columbia, Canada. We ran a laboratory experiment with a framing likened to German corporate law which traditionally includes social standards. Our results show that a stakeholder provision, as found in both Germany and the US, cannot overcome material incentives. However, even absent incentives the stakeholder norm does not foster other regarding behavior but slightly inhibits it instead. Our experiment thus illustrates the paramount importance of taking into account both incentives and framing effects when designing institutions. We tentatively discuss potential policy implications for social enterprise legislation and the stakeholder debate. Collegial decision-making is relevant for a host of legal questions and in particular for corporate law. What do we know about its empirical effects? Less than we could. As of yet, pertinent review articles usually (1) assume rather than analyze how much the law actually mandates collegial decision-making, (2) rely mostly on “classical” studies of decision-making or those from behavioral economics, while underrating a century’s worth of previous empirical research, and (3) review the evidence anecdotally with little regard for the robustness of each study’s findings. As a consequence, scholars from corporate law and economics even today rely on theories and evidence which were disproved years ago. The present paper is a remedy. It combines a thorough comparative analysis of corporate statutes with a comprehensive research of empirical evidence, resulting in an assessment of the robust empirical effects of collegial decision-making. Finding that groups tend to deteriorate decision quality and exacerbate cognitive biases, this paper calls upon corporate law to design institutional remedies. Knowing more about these empirical effects will help scholars to identify and eliminate faulty arguments, and thereby improve governance policy and the legal discourse as a whole.