If it makes intuitive sense to keep specialist lawyers (such as those who handle patents, securities, trademarks, major litigation, and antitrust) wherever the most executives are, recent data offers some proof. In the field the lawyers are much more likely to be generalist commercial lawyers than legal mavens.
Empirical support for this conclusion comes from a benchmarking study of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) law departments that collected data for 2008 from 123 departments. Conducted by Laurence Simons, a major legal recruitment firm, and this author, the report is available for a nominal cost from Laurence Simons. The report contains recommendations for most of the benchmarks for how to alter your law department’s metric. One of the study’s analyses contrasted law departments that had 30 percent or less of their lawyers based in EMEA – presumed to be subsidiaries with headquarters outside of EMEA – and law departments that had more than half their lawyers in EMEA – presumed to be headquartered there.
The result? Accepting these assumptions, subsidiaries had less than half as many lawyers per billion Euros as EMEA-based law departments. The reason is likely that the law departments of companies headquartered outside of EMEA have most of their legal specialists based at headquarters, not in their EMEA subsidiaries.