Take your total legal spending (your budget for internal compensation and operations plus your expenditures on law firms and other external vendors). Divide that number by your lawyer count at the end of the year. If you are a large US corporation, that result likely falls into a range around $1 million.
An article written by Prof. Michele DeStefano Beardslee in the Georgetown J. of Legal Ethics, Fall 2009 at 1259, 1323 buttresses this benchmark. She obtained survey responses from 139 general counsel of S&P 500 companies that covered their 2006 spending and staffing data. Their median “approximate legal budget in 2006 (excluding compliance)” was $37 million while their median “number of attorneys overseen” was 35. Calculations with medians can be suspect, but those two figures suggest about $1 million per lawyer, and both the 25th percentile and 75th percentile ratios were quite similar.
A couple of earlier posts offer more support (See my post of March 1, 2008: DuPont metrics at about $1MM per lawyer; and Feb. 13, 2009: total legal spend of about $1 million per inside lawyer.). In the ongoing benchmark survey of General Counsel Metrics, the 11,351 lawyers in the survey to date accounted for total spending of $10.4 billion, which works out to be $918,000 per lawyer.
Learn 24 more metrics! Take part in the benchmarking study by clicking here to complete the seven-minute, confidential online survey based on your fundamental 2009 metrics of staff and spend.