Just what is the total spend by legal departments, in the United States or globally?

No sooner than I published about two impossible-to-reconcile figures on corporate legal spending, and the disappointing lack of support for either figure, I read another (See my post of Oct. 25, 3011 #2: $60 billion global and $200 billion U.S. litigation figures.). In Corp. Counsel, Oct. 2011 at 55, Mark Harris, the CEO of Axiom, starts his article with a reference to the “half-a-trillion dollar global legal services industry.”

Later Harris states the future of the legal industry rests in the wallets of the “largest 5 percent of corporations, who among them control more than half of the $100 billion U.S. corporate legal services market.” He later infers that the “market” includes in-house legal costs. That means he sees the United States as accounting for about 20 percent of the worldwide legal services expenses. I would be surprised if it is that low.

One final number from Harris: “80 percent of the [U.S. corporate legal services] market is controlled by a mere 200 GCs.” If we crudely assume the Fortune 200 to be the biggest spenders, then the smallest company had a bit over $12 billion in revenue while the median was $25 billion – all 500 recorded $10.8 trillion. Guessing that the top 40 percent of the list (200 companies) accounted for 80 percent of the total revenue, and positing that something like one half percent of their revenues went for legal services, that would approximately $45 billion (.8 times $10.8 trillion times .5%). Fairly close to Harris’ estimate of half the U.S. corporate legal services market.

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