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Attrition rates at law departments range upwards from seven percent

According to the Altman Weil 2008 Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey at 108, the larger the law department, the lower the median percentage of lawyers leaving the department, as a percentage of the total number of departmental lawyers. In other words, the larger the department, the better it retains lawyers. This may be another reason why total legal spending compared to revenue declines as companies grow larger.

As to the actual metrics, departments with 26 or more lawyers reported a median departure rate of 6.7 percent of all lawyers. Somewhat smaller departments, with 11 to 25 lawyers, reported double that rate: 12.7 percent. And even smaller departments, those with 4 to 10 lawyers, experienced 50 percent higher attrition rates – at 18.2 percent. On average only 12 departments filled each size group, but the pattern is clear. Moreover, the attrition figures are much higher than the sometimes-mentioned two percent attrition rates. To be sure, “leaving a department” includes those who retire, those who take better jobs in other law departments, and those who move to a business or staff unit.

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