Cross-sectional analysis and invoices from law firms

The Harvard Bus. Rev., Sept. 2011 at 75, discusses a way to deal with complexity through what the authors call triangulation – “using different methodologies, making different assumptions, collecting different data, or looking at the same data different ways.” To understand a complex situation it helps to triangulate from multiple angles and sources.

The corresponding term for social scientists is cross-sectional analysis, which means that if a researcher were to investigate outside counsel expenses, a wide variety of cross sections (triangulations from different perspectives) could inform that study. Which firms are or have been used, interviews with law firms, analyses of matter management data, maps of the invoice process, RFPs, fired firms, fee arrangements, scores from evaluations, historical documents like old guidelines– the list of vantage points and sources extends a long way.

In short, anything about management oozes complexity and allows a multitude of views – perhaps an infinite number of them.

Twice I have assembled my posts regarding complexity (See my post of March 13, 2007: complexity with 4 references; and Dec. 27, 2008: complexity of legal practice with 20 references.). Since then, there have been 17 more posts, which I have organized below under four categories.

Complexity as a concept (See my post of May 19, 2009: no unarguable way to quantify complexity; Aug. 24, 2009: definition of “complexity”; and Oct. 20, 2009 #2: autonomy and decision latitude.).

Legal services complexity: (See my post of Sept. 22, 2009 #4: the more complex the issue, the fewer law firms can handle it; Oct. 31, 2010: Halstead metrics for software complexity; Nov. 10, 2010: comments on Halstead and software complexity; Jan. 24, 2011: a method to group contracts by their complexity; Feb. 1, 2010: pointer to law not having grown more complex; Feb. 15, 2010: software to gauge complexity of contracts; April 6, 2010: proportion of complex work in-house; and April 29, 2010: from Russia, less of a discount if work is more complex.).

Legal department complexity (See my post of Aug. 24, 2009: law departments as “complex systems”; Aug. 25, 2009 #4: law departments as complex non-linear adaptive systems; and Sept. 22, 2010: relative complexity of law departments through entropy index.).

Corporate or industry complexity and its bearing on law departments (See my post of April 24, 2009: CEO pay correlates to size of company, therefore its complexity; Jan. 21, 2010: biggest challenge for GCs is to manage organizational complexity; and Aug. 5, 2010: Herfindahl’s index of industry complexity, and two possible applications to law departments.).

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