Law departments of US companies with significant foreign revenue have many overseas lawyers

Of the 179 lawyers on Caterpillar’s legal team, 121 of them (68%) are based outside the United States. GM has nearly half its 236 lawyers based outside the U.S. and among McDonald’s 147 lawyers about half are based internationally. All these figures come from Corp. Counsel, Vol. 15, June 2008 at 103 and 105.

Data like this about overseas lawyers suggests the need for a benchmark metric: percentage of lawyers outside the home country in relation to percentage of revenue generated internationally.

For example, a company that earns a third of its revenue overseas and has a third of its lawyers based outside the home country would have a ratio of one (30/30). I suspect that ratio will be still be well below 0.5 even when a company starts to earn more than a third of its revenue internationally and its total revenue passes the several billion dollar mark (See my post of March 19, 2006: modest need for international lawyers in US law departments.).

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