The “burden of knowledge” on lawyers as the law accumulates and complicates

To grapple with “legal complexity” is not for the simple minded (See my post of May 15, 2005: complexity of legal services generally; and June 28, 2005: legal complexity.), so a small item intrigued me. Inventors, it said, require ever-increasing effort to absorb what is known and go beyond that prerequisite base of knowledge. The item, in the Atlantic, Vol. 302, Dec. 2008, at 21, says that the “burden of knowledge” means that “aspiring innovators are going to school longer, specializing more, and relying more heavily on collaboration.” Does a comparable weight fall on lawyers, burdened by the accumulating weight of all the decisions, scholarly articles, regulations, statutes, practice observations, and presentations?

Everyone assumes complexity in the practice of large-company law has increased (See my post of Dec. 6, 2007: ways in-house lawyers cope with complexity; and Nov. 24, 2007: pressures on in-house counsel include complexity.).

Posts on this blog have here and there considered complexity in various practice areas (See my post of Sept. 5, 2007: contracts and complexity; June 25, 2007: index of contract complexity; Nov. 22, 2007: complexity scale for litigation; March 13, 2007: measure litigation complexity; Aug. 27, 2005: litigation complexity; April 22, 2008: example of complex litigation; April 19, 2006 # 1: federal employment regulations; April 30, 2006: #1: tax complexity; Feb. 16, 2006: tax issue complexity; and Jan. 4, 2008: UK FSA rule book.). The difficulty of defining complexity in areas of law overlaps the difficulty in defining benchmarks for practitioners in areas of law.

Broader considerations of complexity also appear on this blog (See my post of Nov. 11, 2007: complexity science; Feb. 18, 2006 #3: complexity science; Jan. 1, 2008: we simplify complex ideas; Sept. 5, 2007: agent-based computer models; Jan. 1, 2008: cartography of law departments; and Sept. 9, 2008: rates of outside counsel rise with complexity of services rendered.).

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