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Distribution of US corporate law departments by number of lawyers: half are five lawyers or less

In-house legal departments range from one to over one thousand attorneys. According to the American Corporate Counsel Association, over 20 percent of in-house counsel are their clients’ sole in-house practitioner; 2 to 5 attorneys comprise about 38 percent of departments; nearly 25 percent of law departments employ 6 to 20 in-house counsel; and only 15 percent practice in departments of 21+ attorneys.

Note that these data cover only corporations, not government agencies (See my post of Nov. 6, 2005 about large government legal teams.). The definition of a large corporate law department ought to start, according to these numbers, at 21 lawyers (See my posts of Sept. 10, 2005 and April 5, 2005 about managerial innovation in large departments.).