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Reflections prompted by publicity regarding the ACC’s 2011 Census Report

The Association of Corporate counsel (ACC) collected data in the spring of 2011 and recently made it available in its 2011 Census Report. Based only on promotional material available on ACC’s website, here are my initial thoughts.

The ACC collected date during April and May of 2011. The Report issued in March, so it took almost one year to massage and prepare the data.

Of the 4,161 companies represented in the Report, 3,652 were in the United States and 267 were in Canada. That 13-to-1 proportion is near the 10:1 last year in the world’s largest law department benchmark survey, that of General Counsel Metrics. Maybe that ratio matches GDP and population figures for the two countries.

To continue with the same data of the first point, were the law departments physically located in the country or were their companies headquartered there? As an example, if someone from General Motors Canada completed the survey, were they counted as a U.S. or a Canadian company?

The summary page boldly states that “ACC used three sources to find all known in-house counsel: ACC’s database, Aspen publishers and LEXIS-NEXIS.” It is quite certain that this survey reached nowhere near the entire universe of in-house counsel in the world (See my post of July 2, 2012: estimates of at least 160,000 law departments worldwide.).

The definition of “census” is a complete enumeration, a thorough tally of whatever is being counted. These findings are not a census of inside counsel because they report data from no more than a small percentage of the total.

The report provides information on compensation. All the one-page summary states is “base salary, total” so it is unclear whether bonuses are broken out separately and whether equity awards are given any value.

It appears that both the compensation results and some of the benchmark results, such as budgets of law departments and numbers of attorneys, compete with the offering of Empsight International, which is one of the ACC’s Partner/Affiliates. The website of the ACC explains: ACC has negotiated an exclusive agreement with Empsight International, LLC covering compensation surveys. Under the terms of this multi-year agreement, Empsight offers price discounts on its existing surveys to participating ACC member companies.

Finally, the report costs $495 for ACC members and $695 for non-members. It does not appear from what I could review that participants, who contributed their time and data, were thereby entitled to anything.

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