The longer the tenure of lawyers in a legal department, the lower the company’s total legal expenses

“For a company with $10 billion in revenue, each year of additional average lawyer tenure in a legal department reduces damages, settlements, and fines by approximately $1.7 million.” That finding comes from research the General Counsel Roundtable published in 2001 (based on 1999 data). The longer its attorneys have practiced in the legal department, the lower those particular legal expenses.

By contrast, total outside and inside expenses, which exclude damages, settlements and fines, drop until the average attorney tenure reached 5.3 years, and then began to rise, “suggesting that departments are not fully capturing the value of more tenured lawyers.” I think that last phrase means that you pay more each year but the productivity or judgment delivered of the lawyers does not keep pace (See my post of Nov. 28, 2007: a proposed years-of-experience benchmark; and Nov. 28, 2005: average age of lawyers in one set of departments.).

The findings conclude that the value of veterans in a department is so strong that “increasing lawyer tenure lowers total legal costs.”

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