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If there are something like 80,000 publicly traded companies in the world, how many privately held companies with law departments might there be?

A Google search for “list of US publicly traded companies” turned up a link that referred to a Bloomberg directory with “over 33,000 companies.” The web site of Credit Risk Monitors claims to identify 20,899 public companies in the United States.

Credit Risk Monitors also lists about 56,000 non-US companies that are publicly traded and breaks them into broad sectors, within which are industries. Credit Risk claims the total worldwide group of publicly traded firms (U.S. and other countries) generated a total of $49 trillion of revenue. At five in-house lawyers for every billion dollars, a middle-of-the road metric for U.S. companies, those 49,000 billions project to 245,000 in-house counsel. If the U.S. median of three lawyers per law department even approximately holds, the quarter million lawyers means 80,000 law departments in publicly traded companies.

I don’t know the ratio, but for every public company with a law department, one can imagine several privately held companies with more than $100 million of revenue and at least one in-house attorney. If 80,000 global public companies with legal departments is approximately right, then is it plausible to add on two, three or four times as many for the privately held departments? Now, about government agencies, not-for-profits, partnerships…

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