Unknown ratio of U.S. corporate in-house lawyers to government in-house lawyers; some Australian data

This sentence from 2008 regarding Australia startled me. “Of the estimated 50,000 lawyers currently in practice throughout Australia, around a quarter are employed in-house.” One out of four? That seemingly high ratio comes from Benny Tabalujan, ed. Leadership and Management Challenges of In-House Legal Counsel (LexisNexis Australia 2008) at 3.

In the United States, estimates of the ratio of in-house corporate lawyers to private-practice lawyers run around one to sixteen (approximately 70,000 to 1.2 million). I am not familiar with any estimates of Federal, State, and local government lawyers. On reflection, however, legal staffs are enormous in the myriad federal agencies; then add even more for state counterparts; toss in thousands who are in prosecutor’s offices and local government and perhaps one quarter of the lawyers in practice being internal is not so far-fetched.

And, since you asked, if Australia averages about three lawyers per law department, does the sentence suggest something like 4,000 law departments in the land of ‘roos (1/4 of 50,000 divided by 3)?

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