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How many in-house counsel are in the world’s 500 largest corporations? 102,324 – well, some other benchmarks

High tens of thousands, that’s all I can really estimate. Let me explain this fragment based on a study by Ernst & Young on headquarters locations of the Global 500. In the ten countries with the most, the US leads with 140, followed by Japan (68), Germany (39) and on down through France, China, the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Korea. Closing out the ten is Switzerland with 15. The top ten countries account for 80 percent of the 500 largest corporations in the world.

But, Rees, what about legal departments? The total revenue last year of all the companies covered by the chart, reproduced in Practical Law, Feb. 2010 at 94, was $25.1 trillion. If we take four lawyers per billion dollars of revenue as a handy approximate, those Jovian companies had 100,000 in-house lawyers. More, they would average 200 lawyers per department. And even more, if total legal spending were 0.3 percent of revenue and of that spend, 60 percent went outside, they would gush something like $45 billion to external counsel.

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