A longitudinal study of 4,160 people who became lawyers in 2000 found that only two years later four percent of them served as in-house counsel. That percentage seems high, since rarely do corporate law departments hire lawyers straight from law schools. However, government law departments and prosecutor’s offices do so more and the four percent may come from those offices.
The ABA J., Vol. 95, March 2009, at 65, and its summary of an American Bar Foundation report informs us that five years later, in 2007, the number for in-house practitioners had jumped to 11 percent. That metric supports my estimate that ten percent of the lawyers practicing in the United States work in-house either in governmental or non-governmental positions (See my post of Sept. 25, 2005: ACCA estimate of 71,000 non-governmental in-house lawyers: Dec. 3, 2006: possible Fortune 500 staff figures; Dec. 11, 2006: ratios in the State of New Jersey; and Dec. 31, 2008: oblique data suggests about 21% in-house.).
It interests me that also that “the number [of lawyers admitted in 2000] working as nonlawyers for corporations increased from 4 percent to almost 8 percent.” That is the first data I have seen on what I have referred to as “hidden lawyers,” those who are admitted to practice but are not part of the law department.