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Another foray into the definition of legal complexity – three features

From an article in the Harvard Bus. Rev., Sept. 2011 at 70, comes a three-part definition of complexity. “The first, multiplicity, refers to the number of potentially interacting elements. The second, interdependence, relates to how connected those elements are. The third, diversity, has to do with the degree of their heterogeneity. The greater the multiplicity, interdependence, and diversity, the greater the complexity.”

To what degree a legal problem could be described as complex, by this definition, depends on the number of legal issues present that have some bearing on each other, their degree of interplay with each other, and how far apart they are in terms of being substantive legal areas that aren’t usually connected to each other. A major acquisition reeks of complexity; a small sub-lease renewal barely registers. A ten-year offshore agreement raises issues galore, solutions to those issues bump into consequences for other legal challenges, and a dozen hornbooks couldn’t cover the wide spread of problems that face the legal team.

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