Let’s assume that in the coming years general counsel who give a thought to law department benchmarks can readily find some of those basic metrics. If they can find them without submitting their own department’s data, they may decide not to submit if they know they compare unfavorably. If they foresee, for instance, that their total legal spending is out of line with their industry peers, they may conclude that they should let the sleeping dogs of embarrassing metrics lie.
If that decision happens very much, then law department benchmark participants will tip more and more toward those departments that believe themselves are well situated in comparison to the metrics. There will be a “race to the top” where relatively poor performers drop out and benchmarks will become tougher and tougher. They will also grow less and less representative.
This would be a shame, because then the entire industry will have nothing but a distorted sense of the typical range of metrics. After all, you would not want to base your sense of body mass index on those BMI metrics gathered only from runners of marathons.