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In-sourcing legal work? Rapid growth of the Wal-Mart legal staff

A piece in the National Law Journal (Sept. 5, 2005 at pg. 11) said that “about two years ago [Wal-Mart] had 50 law lawyers,” based on remarks at a conference by the company’s general counsel. The journalist added that in 2004 the department hired 39 lawyers. Even if the baseline in about 2002 were somewhat higher than 50, the growth in 2004 astonishes me (about 78 percent growth from the baseline figure).

I think mergers did not account for the hiring binge, and maybe Wal-Mart a couple of years ago was legally anorexic. My hunch is that the company has tried to stem its enormous outside counsel bills by in-sourcing in-house counsel (See my post of September 22, 2005 stating Wal-Mart’s external spend of $200 million.)