AI & Law: Catala Programming Language For Law-As-Code

Lance Eliot
7 min readOct 11, 2022
A newer programming language called Catala tries to tackle the law-as-code conundrum

by Dr. Lance B. Eliot

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Key briefing points about this article:

  • There is an ongoing debate about the law-as-code confabulation
  • Some lean toward low-code or no-code options
  • Others emphasize the importance of robust full-code programming capabilities
  • Catala is a newer programming language devised for the law-as-code ambitions
  • Features include compiling to a generic lambda calculus

Introduction

Take a look at just about any legal news media posting these days and you’ll inevitably see a reference to the law as code. The assertion that law is code has become nearly ubiquitous.

Why so?

Well, the overarching notion of law as code is that the law can be construed as a form of programming code. The text of the law is ostensibly regarded as a set of rules that can be summarily codified into a program or algorithm. If that is so, we can readily pour the law into computers and be able to easily access the law more actively.

Rather than ordinarily dealing with inactive blobs of text, a computer system that has ingested law as code would be able to computationally aid lawyering. Logic-based computations could make inferences about our laws, turning the law into something enlivened and usable. Just imagine that instead of trying to do byzantine text searches to figure out the law that pertains to your particular legal case at hand, you could ask the computer to do the legal intertwining for you.

The use of AI in the law is anticipated to make the law as code an even likelier possibility. For additional details about the overall rising disruption of AI to the law and the legal profession, see my book available on Amazon entitled “AI and Legal Reasoning Essentials” at this link here: https://www.amazon.com/Legal-Reasoning-Essentials-Artificial-Intelligence/dp/1734601655

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Lance Eliot

Dr. Lance B. Eliot is a renowned global expert on AI, successful startup founder, global CIO/CTO, , was a top exec at a major Venture Capital (VC) firm.