At first blush it might seem that a law department with several international locations would incur materially higher overhead costs. Conversely, a geographically centralized law department, with nearly all of its lawyers in one location, might enjoy what we can call economies of co-location.
That first blush might turn to red-faced embarrassment, because international offices of in-house counsel always nestle in existing corporate offices. Unlike a law firm, which may have to create infrastructure for each branch office – rent, parking, security, technology, cleaning – the law department lawyer is simply one more person in the complex and overhead barely registers.
Travel costs might rise for a department because of trips from and to headquarters, but more travel costs are probably saved by having a lawyer much closer.