As numbers of law department lawyers decline, inside expenses per lawyer increase

Altman Weil published data in GC Mid-Atlantic, June 2008, at 30, that compares metrics from the firm’s 2003 benchmark survey and its 2007 survey. Mash together the survey’s metrics on lawyer staffing and inside law-department expenses per lawyer and we glean an insight not mentioned in the article.

For all the companies in the two survey years, expenses per lawyer averaged $314,576 in 2003 and rose five percent to $330,133 in 2007. For the same group and years, the numbers of lawyers employed dropped from 20.13 to the 2007 figure of 18.10, a decrease of 11 percent.

Assuming most of the law departments that provided data in 2003 also provided data in 2007, then it is no wonder that costs per lawyer rose as the number of lawyers dropped. What stands out is that costs rose half as much as lawyer numbers declined (5% to 11%). That suggests the possibility that law departments added non-lawyer staff.

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