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Predominance of small law departments among Canadian companies

The 2011 In-House Counsel Barometer, produced by the Canadian law firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg In association with the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA), covers the responses of 864 in-house lawyers in Canada.

The report states at 9 that “one-fifth (19%) of in-house counsel are sole practitioners in their organization and another 23% report that their law department is comprised of 2-3 lawyers.” Based on that distribution from a large number of respondents, the median size of Canadian law departments would be around 4 lawyers, since 42 percent have 3 or fewer, and one more lawyer will push the cumulative percentage beyond the 50% mark.

If lawyers did not come in units of one but were identified by full-time equivalents, the mathematical median might be around 3.2. “Mathematical median” is not a term of art, but tries to convey the “typical” number of lawyers in Canadian law departments if the numbers of lawyers could be stated more precisely than after jumps of one full lawyer at a time. The average won’t work because some very large departments might push the number higher than what I am trying to get at. Perhaps there is an average below the median?

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