A British food manufacturer, RHM, with annual sales of more than £1.5 billion ($2.6 billion) recently reviewed its legal advisors and selected a four-firm panel (Legal Week, Vol. 7, Oct. 27, 2005 at 3). If it were a US company of that size and industry, RHM’s total legal spend would be around 0.3 percent of its revenue ($8 million or so), of which a bit more than half would go to outside counsel. By that estimation, the four firms will average around a million dollars of work a year.
The article also explained that two “City firms” will handle the company’s main “corporate work,” with the other two “national” firms will handle day-to-day “commercial work.” I have seen that distinction before. M&A, corporate governance, corporate secretary, and major litigation falls in the “corporate” camp; contracts, routine legal questions, employment issues and the like fall in the “commercial.” Corporate work has more prestige than commercial work.