Monday, September 2, 2013

Take That, You Tax Types (aka Labor Day Factoid)


Don't ask me why I was reading (OK, skimming) an SSRN piece entitled Measuring the Complexity of the United States Code, but it had 400+ other downloads, so I wasn't the only one with nothing better to do on a rainy day at the Shore. The authors purport to create a empirical framework for "measuring relative legal complexity;" their approach is called "knowledge acquisition,"  which "can take into account the structure, language, and interdependence of the law." Got that?

They then apply their measure to the U.S. Code. and it's here where you can one-up those insufferable tax types who claim their specialty is incredibly complicated.  According to the authors, Title 42 ranks as "most complex." Admittedly, Title 26 comes in second, but employment scholars also have to deal with Title 29, which comes in 6th.

Indeed, it's worse than that for tax. Those rankings are "normalized"; the authors also report "unnormalized" rankings, with Title 42 still at the top but Title 26 falls all the way to 9th. ("Normalized"rankings account for size of Title).

In case you're wondering, Title 9, arbitration comes in dead last in the normalized category as the simplest of the titles. Which makes the Supreme Court's 317 encounters with the topic even more perplexing. (Empirically speaking, I didn't actually count the case but it sure feels in that vicinity).

I suspect that there will be quibbles from the tax types and als0-rans re the methodolgy (aren't there always?). And some carpers will undoubtedly point out that 42 has a lot of stuff in it other than discrimination. But, really, doesn't this study merely confirm what all Workplace Prof readers already know -- our field is the most challenging?


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Title 42 - seems appropriate then: Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything

Posted by: Sprucegum | Sep 2, 2013 7:19:00 AM

Any ranking of complexity that doesn't have Title 8 as the most complex, can't be accurate.

Posted by: Simon | Sep 4, 2013 6:12:23 AM

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