The controversy has been quelled: the top of the small law department ranges is exactly five lawyers, no more, no less (See my post of Dec. 27, 2008: arguments and metrics for that conclusion regarding “small”.). Next, let us solemnly affirm that between 6 and 12 lawyers constitutes a “medium” size department.
That law departments with more than 12 lawyers should be deemed “large” might strike many people as not so prepossessing, but that category might account for a third of the lawyers employed in the United States (See my post of Dec. 23, 2008: 61% of one group of surveyed in-house lawyers served companies that reported less than $1 billion of revenue.).
With a consensus on size adjectives, surveys and journalists would have comparability. Most benchmarkers create groupings after examining the number and size of the participants they attracted. The ranges vary from year to year because the analysts juggle the groupings so that each has in it a reasonable number of law departments. Journalists use small, medium, and large very loosely, often based on the companies in the region they cover. A consistent terminology to describe legal teams by number of lawyers would help greatly.