Little change in basic benchmark metrics over past 14 years

The 1993 Law Department Spending Survey of Price Waterhouse, which reported 1992 data, had 196 participants, with median worldwide revenue of $3.4 billion. Fourteen years later, the 2007 Law Department Survey of Hildebrandt, the successor of the PW survey, has 172 benchmark participants, with median worldwide revenue of $10.4 billion. Adjusted for inflation (stated in constant dollars), the median revenue was the same as $4.88 billion in today’s dollars.

In the 1993 study, the median number of lawyers was 20 (US only), and median total law department staff (US) was 45. After fourteen years, the comparable figures are 28 lawyers and 59 total legal staff. Thus, worldwide revenue for these comparable populations of mostly large law departments swelled 300 percent in nominal dollars, while US lawyers went up 40 percent and total US legal headcount went up 31 percent.

Note that more growth occurred in the lawyer ranks than in the non-lawyer ranks (See my post of Nov. 28, 2007 about the decline in support-staff ratios.). Increased numbers of non-US lawyers and legal staff accounts for some of the ability to support the larger revenue.

Way back then, the group had a median of seven lawyers per billion dollars of revenue. Last year, the number was 3.3 lawyers per billion of worldwide revenue and 4.2 lawyers per billion of US revenue. In short, in-house lawyers now support somewhat more than twice as much revenue per lawyer as a decade or so ago (See my posts of May 26, 2007 on productivity metrics increases in the face of workload; and Dec. 3, 2007 on the advantages larger law departments have in cost control.).

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