Sandy Samuels was Countrywide’s general counsel for 18 years, until Bank of America acquired the huge mortgage services company in 2008. Corp. Counsel, Dec. 2010 at 18, writes that “Samuels built the legal staff at Countrywide from nine attorneys to more than 250.” As a percentage increase almost 3,000 percent, the ramp up was awesome, but law departments that began with one lawyer – don’t they all? – could beat that if they grew to 30 or more. Twitter, to name one, has blossomed from a single lawyer to more than 25 in a couple of years.
In terms of absolute numbers of lawyers, the 240-plus added under Samuel’s watchful eye deserve an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mergers of huge companies don’t lead to anything like that expansion since they typically result in huge layoffs or attrition. Other law departments that have mushroomed – think Google – may not have had the same general counsel during the boom. Countrywide went down in flames, but not for a lack of lawyers steadily added by its long-serving general counsel!