Myth or reality? Smaller legal departments are harder pressed than larger ones

Why does the sentiment prevail that lawyers in small law departments face noticeably more burdensome workloads than do lawyers in larger departments? Small and stretched vs. large and lazy? To the contrary, size probably creates more legal problems; smaller but legally simpler companies may need fewer lawyers.

This is a manifestation, I believe, that the grass grows greener on the other departments’ lawns – small law departments tell themselves that if only they were more numerous they could plug more holes in the dike. Lawyers in big departments, stressed and equally strapped, spend their frantic days feeling just as beleaguered. They dream that their workload would be simpler, less stressful, if they only had a relatively simple one billion dollar company to protect.

Neither is correct. Benchmark studies show that lawyers per billion of revenue stays relatively stable above a billion dollars in revenue, if anything it may drop as company size increases. Below that size, when a company has only one or two in-house staff, life is probably more of a blaze of fire drills. Perhaps generalists, who are more common in smaller legal teams, feel more besieged than specialists.

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