Searching for Law in All the Wrong Places

16 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2021 Last revised: 16 Sep 2021

See all articles by Evan C. Zoldan

Evan C. Zoldan

University of Toledo College of Law

Date Written: June 25, 2021


Abstract. In The Corpus and the Critics, Lee & Mouritsen reaffirm their commitment to interpreting legal language using corpus linguistics techniques. Importantly, they also acknowledge that it is not always appropriate to search for the meaning of statutory language in a general corpus—that is, a corpus that includes a variety of types of texts. They attempt to soften the force of this concession by arguing that a corpus of legislative history would allow an interpreter to learn how statutory terms are used in legal texts. This Essay responds to Lee & Mouritsen by identifying why a corpus of legislative history will not help them accomplish their goal. Moreover, by holding out the promise of a corpus of legislative history, Lee & Mouritsen raise an all-important preliminary question: how should an interpreter choose the correct corpus to search? This Essay explains why Lee & Mouritsen’s suggestions about how to choose a corpus are inconsistent and unsatisfying.

Suggested Citation

Zoldan, Evan Craig, Searching for Law in All the Wrong Places (June 25, 2021). Minnesota Law Review Headnotes, 2021 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Evan Craig Zoldan (Contact Author)

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States

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