It distorts our quantitative analyses to rely so much on metrics per lawyer (See my posts of Nov. 16, 2005 on cost per lawyer hour inside and Sept. 27, 2005 on oddities from ACC metrics and the distortions this causes.). What law department managers and consultants need is an accepted translation of everyone in a law department into one equivalent figure (See my post of May 31, 2005 on the reason to normalize data.).
For example, the standard might be decided that 2.5 paralegals make up the equivalent in work output of a lawyer. If we were to convert four or five administrative assistants (See my post of May 17, 2006 on the title and definition of this position.), we would cover even more members of the department. We can already convert part-time lawyers, as we translate them into full-time equivalents (See my post of Oct. 18, 2005 on FTE and internal cost rates.). To convert all the other positions that law departments have (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005 on the multiplicity of law department positions.), it becomes harder, but relatively few law departments have them and perhaps the translation would be midway between paralegals and administrative assistants.
Somewhat like chess pieces all have a value in terms of pawns; the calculation of full-time lawyer equivalents would allow our benchmarking studies to be more accurate than we are now with the the current usage of legal staff, where each position counts for one.