Lawsuits per billion of revenue – an actionable metric?

Three hundred companies provided data for Fulbright & Jaworski’s 2004 Litigation Trends Survey.  According to it, for the hundred companies with more than $1 billion in revenues, the median company faced 86.2 pending cases in litigation. 

The summary I read gave no further breakdown of this number so the 86 may include small collection matters on up to massive class actions.  The summary did say that manufacturers (22% of the companies) had a median of 33 cases pending while energy (11% of the companies) and financial (9%) had 17 cases, so this trio of industries – comprising 42% of the companies – would have probably had a the median number of cases pending in the low 20’s.  It seems the litigation load, to be fair, only modestly presses on these companies.

Other data shows that about 5 lawyers per billion in revenue commonly applies, and about one out of ten in-house lawyers are dedicated to litigation.  That leaves roughly half a litigator per billion of revenue, and therefore something like 50 pending cases per litigator for the three industries cited above. 

What doesn’t square with this back-of-the envelope guestimation is that elsewhere the report states that approximately one-third of the over $1 billion companies had more than five in-house lawyers managing litigation and one third had three-to-five such lawyers.  Lawyers “managing litigation” is not the same as full-time litigation lawyers, to be sure, because any lawyer might be overseeing outside counsel on a law suit.  My approximation focused on lawyers who are dedicated to litigation.

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