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Descriptive metrics part I: in-house lawyers of a law department

The members of a law department yield many descriptive metric (See my post of Feb. 26, 2009: start of a series on such metrics.). To review, a descriptive metric puts some aspect of a law department in numeric terms, which encompasses traditional benchmarks but goes beyond them to quantify less common features. This post focuses on lawyers, but the same principles apply to all other legal staff.

At the personal level, descriptive metrics arise from various characteristics of lawyers in a department (See my post of Nov. 28, 2007: average tenure of lawyers and years out of law school; Nov. 28, 2005: quality of law school attended; Aug. 29, 2008: LSAT scores and general counsel success; June 26, 2008: lawyer experience correlated with staffing and spending; Sept. 4, 2005: demographics; April 16, 2007: talent index with several descriptive metrics; and Sept. 25, 2005: lawyers work an average 6 years before moving into a company.). Diversity figures are descriptive metrics as are psychometric instruments create them (percentage of ENTJ lawyers in a department!).

Beyond descriptive metrics about personal attributes of the lawyers, many are possible for compensation (See my post of Aug. 27, 2008: compensation by levels with 18 references.). For example, the percentage gap between the highest and lowest paid lawyers of a given compensation band; the proportions of base, bonus, and incentive; and average salary increases over three years. Another could be vacation days (See my post of Feb. 22, 2009: vacations and holidays with 10 references.).

The best known descriptive metrics for law department staff are (1) lawyers per billion of revenue, (2) total legal staff per billion of revenue, and (3) the ratio of lawyers to non-lawyers (See my post of Feb. 25, 2009: lawyers per billion of revenue with references; Jan. 27, 2006: business managers, productivity and total legal staff; Dec. 27, 2008: lawyers better as denominator than legal staff; Dec. 23, 2005: typically 1 lawyer for every 1 non-lawyer; Nov. 28, 2007: decline in support-staff ratios; and May 16, 2007: delegate to non-lawyers.). Paralegals-to-lawyers is another descriptive ratio often mentioned (See my post of June 28, 2005: legal assistants and secretaries.).

More subtle quantified descriptions will incorporate equivalency ratios for lawyers, paralegals, and support staff (See my post of June 28, 2006: proposed standard equivalencies across levels.).

In short, with the aid of existing and to-be-developed descriptive metrics we can summarize demographics, structure, and ratios of lawyers.

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