Modest need for international lawyers in US law departments

Everywhere one hears about “globalization” and the need for law departments of large companies to bestride our planet (See my post of Feb. 12, 2006 on the different terms global, international and multi-national.). It turns out that “foreign sales of America’s S&P 500 companies amount to a modest 25% of the total.” Even “at the 50 biggest firms the figure [foreign sales as percentage of total sales] is higher, at around 40%.” Economist, Feb. 25, 2006 at 75.

Much so-called international legal work can be done by US trained lawyers in the US. The ratio of foreign to domestic revenue is not likely to be very useful as a practice area benchmark. Even if it were, one might extrapolate from these figures that less than a quarter of in-house legal staff should be doing “international work.” Benchmark metrics suggest that the actual percentage of lawyers in-house who label their practice “international” stands at less than 10 percent (See my post of July 20, 2005 on practice area benchmarks.)

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