I have dreamed for years of being able to measure legal intensity, an objective index that shows one industry faces more legal issues than another, and by how much. The researchers of McKinsey may offer one piece (McKinsey Quarterly, 2005 No. 4 at 95).
The article, on regulatory strategy, identified “selected regulatory issues” for each of ten industries. For example, for the Power industry: implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, capacity regulation, and transmission regulation. One industry had four regulatory issues (Pharmaceuticals), two had three issues (Power and Telecom), five had two (Transportation, Insurance, Financial, Petroleum, and Basic Materials), while Food and Natural Gas had one issue each.
Granted that if the specifics can be debated endlessly, the methodology appeals to me. Have experts assess the relative number of major regulatory issues facing an industry, and then correlate lawyers per billion of revenue, for example, to those findings. With enough analyses like that, each covering a different practice area or cause of legal work, a quantitative picture will emerge of relative industry legal challenges