Practice area benchmark metrics – missing in action

As scarce as unemployed Supreme Court clerks, those are benchmark metrics on lawyers by in-house practice area. A smatter of figures exist on cases per litigator or patents produced per patent lawyer, but where are useful numbers about employment and labor lawyers per 1,000 employees or environmental lawyers per $1 of environmental liability reserves or finance lawyers per $1 billion of public debt outstanding plus bank loans?

Practice area benchmarks don’t exist, yet. They will, because law departments would like to know how many import/export lawyers are typical per billion dollars of international transactions, and how many real estate lawyers does it take to handle every 100,000 square feet of owned or leased property.

None of the denominators – the business circumstances – stands as a sure-fire driver of legal work and thus headcount, but they are crude proxies. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

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