In her most recent benchmark report, Helene Trink, head of the French consultancy Profit & Law, published 2010 data on 75 law departments in France and their lawyer headcount. At the median, the number of lawyers per billion Euros of revenue was 8.5. If we take the Euro exchange rate as $1.75 dollars per Euro, that works out to be 6.4 lawyers per billion U.S. dollars. The final report of General Counsel Metrics has 2010 data for 510 U.S. law departments. The comparable figure was 4.8 lawyers per billion. A difference of a lawyer and half per billion deserves some explanation.
The first quartile legal department had 3.6 per billion Euros (2.7per billion dollars) while the fourth quartile had 16.9 (12.7 per billion dollars). The French departments have insourced more work than their U.S. counterparts, which in part explains their lower total legal spending as a share of revenue (See my post of March 6, 2012: French data on legal-to-revenue ratios.).
This shift appears even more clearly because the percentage of internal legal spend to total legal spend is at the median 50%. For U.S. departments, a ratio of 40/60 with the tilt to external spending is more common.