An undetermined number of legal departments live rent free. That is, the companies the departments serve do not charge the legal budget with a cost for the offices, hallways, conferences rooms and facilities space the lawyers and staff occupy. If the law department gets off scot free, or if the charge to it is less than market rates, the department’s cost per fully-loaded attorney hour will be artificially low.
What would be a reasonable, imputed-rental charge? According to an article in Directors & Boards, Vol. 33, Fourth Quarter 2008 at 41, in the United states the average lease rate for offices per square foot is $24.50. The data comes from Kalorama Partners firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, what we all are dying to know is how many square feet per lawyer makes up the footprint of a typical law department (See my post of April 23, 2008: square foot costs of filing cabinets; and Nov. 8, 2005: 38-member legal department occupies a space roughly 50 feet by 75 feet [approximately $94,000 a year at $25 a square foot.).