Oddly small gap between US and worldwide total legal spending per lawyer

According to a recent survey, total legal spending per lawyer varies little between the median US figure and the worldwide figure. The two, presented by Jon Bellis during a webinar, showed United States lawyers at $1,056,351 per lawyer and worldwide lawyers at $35,000 less, $1,021,442.

The three-percent difference surprises me because the received wisdom is that the United States generates much more expensive legal costs and salaries. The near equality of the two medians puzzles me even more because there are often more, but lower cost, lawyers in law department offices outside the US. With less spend and more lawyers, that would drive down the worldwide spend per attorney.

More perplexing is that US law departments have paralegals, doing some amounts of legal work, allowing the department to get by with fewer lawyers per unit of legal work than their non-US colleagues who lack paralegals, yet driving up spend per attorney. Then too, some might suggest somewhat more sophistication prevails in the use of technology among US corporate attorneys, capabilities to increase productivity, reduce the number of lawyers needed, and drive up the US median. Both paralegals and technology, however, as they lower lawyer numbers, may reduce the the US median portion inside which is dominated by lawyer compensation.

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