Management attorneys and their spans of control

A study of a city Law Department (Austin, Texas) wrote that “[r]ecommended best practice advisories suggest a ratio of one management attorney for every eight to ten attorneys.” The report cites its own analysis and an article by Altman Weil. [http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/auditor at pg. 34] By that measure, an 18-to- 22 lawyer municipal law department should have only two managers with lawyer reports.

I am surprised at so wide a span of control. Perhaps in government this ratio finds support, but in corporate law departments, this ratio is too wide; spans of control extend more to four-to-six lawyers. By span of control, I mean lawyers who report to another lawyer and are evaluated and directed by that senior (managing) lawyer.

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