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Most US law departments are small – about 60 percent have five or fewer lawyers

When we think about law departments, we usually think of departments of some bulk, those with management issues, resources to address them, and some flexibility in how they decide to operate (See my post of Nov. 19, 2007 on the ten largest US companies and references to them on this blog.).

We need to remind ourselves that most law departments are small (See my post of Feb. 15, 2006 about six and the single-lawyer department; Feb. 11, 2007 with ACC data that 80% of the departments were five lawyers or fewer; and Dec. 5, 2007: some of the downsides of being in a small law department.). From FindLaw I took the confirmatory quote below:

“According to the American Corporate Counsel Association, over 20 percent of in-house counsel are their clients’ sole in-house practitioner; departments of 2 to 5 attorneys comprise about 38 percent; nearly 25 percent represent organizations employing 6 to 20 in-house counsel; 15 percent practice in departments of 21+ attorneys.”

Thus, six out of ten law departments have five or fewer lawyers (See my post of April 5, 2005: innovations and initiatives correlate to the size of departments.). It may be that the median US law department has four lawyers.