This year, with my burrowing into benchmark metrics for law departments, I have unearthed a number of clues to the total number of law departments around the world (See my post of Feb. 8, 2010: UK had approximately 130,000 lawyers; Commerce & Industry has 11,000 members; Feb. 16, 2010 #2: extrapolation from Belgian figures; Feb. 17, 2010: possibly 10,000 law departments in Europe; Feb. 19, 2010: some data on the number of in-house counsel; March 2, 2010: presumed even distribution of number of departments across industries after adjusting for size of industry; April 30, 2010: Bureau of Labor Statistics data; May 10, 2010: estimates based on GDP calculations; May 12, 2010: traded companies and tax returns; June 18, 2010: some numbers from the UK; Oct. 7, 2010 #1: US has 30,000 companies with 100+ employees; Oct. 14, 2010: 70,000 transnational companies in the world; Oct. 20, 2010: estimates based on lawyers per thousand employees; Oct. 22, 2010: state-level data; Oct. 31, 2010: ISO 9000 certificate awards; and Nov. 19, 2010: 45,000 publicly traded companies worldwide.).
Before the surge in 2010 I had accumulated a number of other references to the law department population of countries or the world (See my post of Sept. 25, 2005: ACCA estimate of 71,000 non-governmental in-house lawyers; Oct. 19, 2005 #2: in-house lawyers in China; April 13, 2006: estimates in the UK of 14.5% inside solicitors; Aug. 26, 2006 on large law departments in France; Dec. 3, 2006: possible Fortune 500 staff figures; Dec. 11, 2006: ratios in the State of New Jersey; May 13, 2007: mid-size companies in Europe with law departments; Feb. 9, 2008: 60% of legal departments in the US have fewer than 5 lawyers; Dec. 31, 2008: oblique data suggests about 21% in-house; March 9, 2009: ABA data and 8%; April 2, 2009 #2: data from 1961 to 1991; and June 15, 2009: almost one out of five lawyers in a large survey had gone in-house by their seventh year of practice.).
Here I will light two more dim candles in the dark. First, subscribers to legal department trade journals. Corp Counsel, Nov. 2009 stated in its Statement of Ownership that its average number of paid/and or requested subscriptions during the preceding 12 months was 25,919. A year later, in the Nov. 2010 issue at 94, the corresponding number had dropped about 5 percent to 24,627. Would those subscribers be 60-70 percent law department lawyers, like the readership of my blog?
Second, consider listings of lawyers in the US’s largest legal departments. The total number of lawyers in the Corporate Legal Times listing of 200 largest law departments in 2000 was 25,836. Four years later that same listing, admittedly with somewhat different companies in it, reached 27,420 attorneys, which means the group had grown by six percent.