Historical benchmark figures catch my eye, and so did an Of Counsel, Feb. 17, 1997 at 2, article. It cites the 1997 Law Department Functions and Expenditures Survey, co-published by ACC’s predecessor and Altman Weil Pensa. Since then, ACC has teamed with Empsight for benchmark and compensation data and Altman Weil sold its benchmark study a few years ago to American Lawyer Media (ALM).
In any event, the survey gathered 1996 data from 189 law departments. Outside lawyers cost on average $376,162 per inside lawyer; internal departmental spend was $268,280 per lawyer, which spend included both salary and operating costs. Thirteen years later, data from General Counsel Metrics for 358 US legal departments showed 2009 outside spend per lawyer rose 40 percent, to $500,000 (a median figure but given the large number of participants, the median and the average are probably close). The median inside costs per lawyer climbed to $346,000, closer to a 30 percent increase. Inflation alone would account for much of the nominal difference in both figures.
Once conclusion, to no one’s surprise, is that external costs have risen faster than internal costs over the past decade or so.