Drawing on data from 109 legal departments in France, consultant Helene Trink of Profit & Law reports that lawyers as a percentage of total legal staff is much higher than in American law departments. Her median figure: 77% of the total legal staff are lawyers (1st quartile 63% and third quartile 86%).
As compared to three-quarters of the French law departments being lawyers, the figure is close to a one-half in United States departments. The final report of General Counsel Metrics for 2010 data, with 510 U.S. law departments, was 53%.
Why the large difference? Paralegal positions are much less common among the French departments, which may explain some of that very large gap. Another explanation may be that the French handle more legal work in-house, so they staff a higher proportion of lawyers (See my post of March 7, 2012: about 1.5 lawyers per billion more in French departments.). Third, it is possible that the all-in costs of lawyers to their French employers is relatively less than to U.S. companies, so the French splurge with more lawyers.