An article’s author writes that “Whereas there were about 3,000 multinational corporations in 1914, the figure rose to 63,000 in the year 2000.” If that latter figure is correct, and the J-shaped growth curve has continued for whatever they mean by “multinational corporations,” one could imagine 70,000 now, a decade later. The quote comes from Historically Speaking, June 2011 at 32, refers to Globalinc: An Atlas of the Multinational Corporation, published in 2003.
If a company has prospered to the point where it operates, or at least sells, in multiple countries, it probably has at least one in-house lawyer (See my post of Oct. 14, 2010: cites to 70,000 “transnational” companies but no source.). That 70,000 figure would not include “national” companies that have an internal legal function.
From various sources I have estimated, very roughly, 30,000 legal departments in the United States and Canada, 10,000 or more in Europe; and I would not be surprised to find 10-20,000 in Asia; 5,000 in Latin and Central America; and thousands more for the rest of the world (EMEA) (See my post of Dec. 31, 2010: estimates of total number of worldwide law departments with 9 references from 2010.). The total worldwide could easily exceed 100,000 law departments.