Additional thoughts about the five practice areas with the highest total cash compensation

An earlier post gave average in-house cash compensation for the five highest-paid practice areas: M&A, Antitrust, International, Intellectual Property – Licensing, and Tax (See my post of April 16, 2012: survey reports averages from $289,000 down.). That post focused on the relationship between cash compensation and the fully loaded costs of in-house attorneys per chargeable hour. Here, several other observations come to the fore (See my post of March 13, 2008: thoughts on that year’s group of highly paid practices.).

With something like half the law departments in the United States at four lawyers or less, they would not have a single one of these specialists. The data caters only to the very largest legal teams, those that can afford and keep busy refined experts.

Tax lawyers are not usually part of the legal department’s budget or headcount (See my post of Dec. 6, 2006: why tax lawyers don’t report to the general counsel.).

The International average could be swollen by ex pat packages (See my post of Oct. 10, 2005: ex pat costs.).

A more sophisticated analysis would control for years of experience. Stated differently, if the average years out of law school of the lawyers in these specialty fields are more than lawyers of lower-compensated fields, tenure may be the driver more than arcane skills (See my post of Nov. 28, 2007: a proposed years-of-experience benchmark.).

The item I read gave no data on the number of positions reflected in these figures. Without an “N” it is not possible to judge the reliability of the averages. It could be that one or two huge law departments have contributed most of a few positions.

I am surprised that there were enough full-time IP licensing experts. Usually licenses of patents are drafted and negotiated by commercial lawyers with input from patent lawyers (See my post of April 27, 2008: Amex legal department claims revenue from patent licensing.).

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