Who cares if parochial, junior lawyers opine on global growth and its affect on legal work?

I bump into metrics and I can’t resist probing them. For example, a press release by the Association of Corporate Counsel, dated June 30, 2008, announces that “global growth drives agenda of in-house lawyers in top companies.”

I couldn’t help trying to figure out whether we should rely on that sweeping conclusion. The first paragraph says that “more than 100 senior corporate counsel” were polled at a recent conference so I assume 100 is close enough, as promoters always give the highest number possible. The conference used an audience response system (electronic voting pads and software) to survey the attendees. Of the attendees, “36% were counsel of companies with more than $10 billion in revenues, and 34% with $1-$10 billion in revenues.” That means that one third of the lawyers – presumably 30-35 of them – work in companies with less than $1 billion in revenue. Companies of that size are unlikely to be deeply immersed in global transactions and the attendant legal problems.

Moreover, “85% of the respondents were corporate counsel, with 62% in a chief legal officer (CLO) role or a direct report to the CLO.” But that means four out of ten of the corporate counsel do not report to the CLO, so they were presumably more junior lawyers and therefore endowed with less perspective on the company and its preparedness for global legal issues.

Additionally, the release does not indicate whether the CLOs at the conference were with the large companies or the small companies.

For all we know, junior lawyers from huge companies mixed with general counsel of small companies, neither of which have the depth and perspective to give informed opinions about global growth and how it shapes legal workload. As a connoisseur of reliable metrics, I mistrust broad statements made on what could well be an unreliable set of data.

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