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A dozen key terms that need clear definition and application in benchmarks of law department staff and spend

We take for granted that fundamental terms in benchmark surveys and reports have clear meanings understood and applied by all. Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Setting aside statistical terms, below are 12 that deserve careful definition by surveyors and scrupulous adherence by respondents so that benchmark metrics may be most useful. A number of posts on this blog have tried to clarify several of these terms.

  1. Chargeable hours (See my post of May 16, 2006: in-house chargeable hours.).
  2. Currency (See my post of July 28, 2010: currency valuation.).
  3. External counsel. I seem not to have defined “law firm” and indeed the concept is morphing.
  4. FTE (See my post of Dec. 15, 2009: complexity of the notion of full-time equivalent.).
  5. Industry (See my post of March 2, 2010: the term “industry”.).
  6. Inside budget (See my post of Aug. 27, 2008: fully-loaded cost per lawyer hour with 31 references; and March 9, 2009: fully-loaded with 7 more posts.).
  7. Lawyer (See my post of Sept. 22, 2009: difficulties with definition of “lawyer”; and Feb. 4, 2010: nuances of “lawyer”.).
  8. Legal staff other than lawyers and paralegals (See my post of May 16, 2006: better to use cost per legal staff, but not defined.).
  9. Matters (See my post of March 26, 2008: “matters” defined.).
  10. Paralegal (See my post of Feb. 10, 20010: variable definition of “paralegal”.).
  11. Revenue (See my post of July 31, 2009 #2: “revenue”.).
  12. Total legal spend or cost (See my post of Feb. 1, 2009: difference between expenses and costs.).

As I gathered this list, I realized I have not tried to define the term ”law department.”

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