A chart that conveys spend on outside counsel in a fresh and illuminating way

A chart in a consulting report did an excellent job of conveying efficiently quite a bit of information. It had thirteen columns, with no spaces between them, each column being for a different type of spending by the client law department on its law firms, e.g., litigation, patent prosecution, offensive patent litigation, etc.

The width of each column portrayed the relative amount (and thus percentage) of the company’s total legal spend for that type of spending. Each column to the right was less thick than the one to the left as the total amounts declined. On top of each column rests the absolute dollar figure.

Within each column there was a rectangle whose vertical size corresponds to the amount paid the law firm named within it. The rectangles shrank from the largest one at the bottom of the column – the law firm paid the most in the previous year for that type of legal service – to the firm paid the least at the top.

My version is in black and white, but I can imagine a color chart that shows the same color for the same firm. With that flourish, you can see quickly where a firm represented the company in multiple areas of law.

All in all, an impressive visual display of metrics and analysis on outside counsel expenditures.

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