The varying elements of experience for an in-house attorney consist of the attorney’s (1) formal education, (2) years since graduation from law school, (3) years in the current company’s law department, (4) degree of legal specialization over time, (5) actual work experience, which includes the number of different jobs held, (6) professional development such as CLE, and (7) the abilities of supervisors.
Each of these elements of experience accounts for a different amount of influence on benchmarks. A law department could create a scaled metric for each of the seven elements for each of its lawyers. With such data compiled annually going back several years, the department could see how well its lawyers per billion dollars of revenue or total legal spending as a percentage of revenue correlated to the elements of experience. Similarly, for the benchmark of inside spending per lawyer, each of these kinds of experience makes a different contribution but it would take a set of data to show the degree to which they correlate with that metric.
To derive such data, to find out which elements of experience are more important for productivity – as indicated by benchmark ratios – it would be fascinating if several law departments contributed this data about their lawyers. The group could then draw conclusions about correlations after someone runs a multiple-regression analysis (See my post of Feb. 4, 2008: an example of multiple regression.).
If people are law departments’ most important assets, then data about their experience is the most important area to study.