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A breakdown of outside counsel usage by practice area

A presenter at a recent conference on intellectual property showed a slide that sourced research by Martindale Hubbell. The pie chart on the slide had 10 slices, one for each of nine practice areas and “other.”

Litigation 37%

IP 11%

Labor & Employment 11%

M&A 9%

Securities 7%

Real Estate 6%

Tax 4%

Environmental 4%

Bankruptcy 3%

Other 8%

What can we observe from these metrics? All of these are specialist areas of legal practice; the commercial lawyers who wrestle mostly with contractual agreements don’t often turn to outside counsel.

Note also that several of the practices as shown may include litigation that arises under them, such as IP and employment. If you subtract litigation spending, and add it into the broader ambit of “litigation,” the latter would swell above 50 percent. Third, that tax spending is typically outside the budget of the general counsel (See my post of Dec. 6, 2006: why are tax lawyers typically outside the law department; Aug. 30, 2006: tax departments may retain their own law firms; Dec. 4, 2005: Shell’s law department excludes tax lawyers; Sept. 3, 2008: typically tax is not the responsibility of the general counsel; and Jan. 29, 2009: scope of responsibilities of general counsel.). Some general counsel oversee tax lawyers (See my post of June 4, 2007: Cadbury Schweppes includes tax lawyers; and Sept. 4, 2005 #3: Food Lion includes tax lawyers.).