My response to a comment about the inadvisability of measuring the complexity of contracts

Steven Levy commented on my post about metrics that might quantify the complexity of contracts (See my post of Oct. 31, 2010: Halstead metrics translated to law departments.).

The problem is that Halstead metrics measure code complexity (sort of) but do not measure either problem complexity, solution elegance (maintainability and resilience to changes and defects), or level of fit between problem and solution. IT departments that use Halstead metrics or equivalents to measure programmers reward inefficiency and quotidian semi-competence instead of actual problem solving and value. The legal industry already has problems mistaking quantity for quality. You get what you measure. To that end, do we really want to focus on measures of complexity?

If a contract deals with a problem – who does what – Steve is right that sophistication of the contract may say little about the real world of the transaction. But two contracts that purport to memorialize the same real world can be more or less “complex.” We should favor the simpler version. That preference opposes the idea of rewarding complexity, much as the movements for Plain English or visual clarity do in their spheres. The goal is a clear, easy-to-understand and useable contract. If we can start to measure the same, and learn what improves the measurement, we are at least advancing.

3 Responses to My response to a comment about the inadvisability of measuring the complexity of contracts

We welcome comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *