ALM Legal Intelligence obtained 2009 data from 116 law departments. One of the questions must have asked about positions eliminated that year broken down by lawyers, paralegals, and support staff – both filled and vacant. The results appear in Corp. Counsel, Dec. 2010 at 85.
The graphic doesn’t say whether the results are medians or averages, but what struck me was that the lawyer positions eliminated, both filled and vacant total 3.3 whereas the non-lawyer positions eliminated total 4.4. That means general counsel cut 33 percent more frequently from the non-lawyer rolls than from the lawyer rolls. Over time, that inclination leads law departments to become lawyer-heavy.
A second interpretation from the results as printed is that the total cuts came to 7.7, so these must have been averages. Most law departments are small and the median in this group could not have terminated almost eight headcount.
Let me close with a third observation. The ratio between filled position that were eliminated and vacant slots closed was 5.5 to 2.2. For every person laid off, a bit less than half a vacant slot was closed.