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Some topics from a profile of the general counsel of Marathon Oil

The law department of Marathon Oil, headed by general counsel Sylvia Kerrigan, enjoys a profile page in Practical Law, Dec. 2010/Jan. 2011 at 96. Embedded in it lurk some blog-worthy topics.

At $53.47 billion in revenues but only 65 lawyers, the ratio of about 1.3 lawyers for every billion would rank close to the bottom on that key benchmark. It makes me wonder whether there are other practicing lawyers in operating units or in countries outside the United States. On the other hand, with 85 other members of the department, the ratio of lawyers to non-lawyers is much less than 1 to 1. So, the department may have fewer lawyers but more paralegals, and thus meet Marathon’s legal needs with a different mix of talent than is usual in US legal departments.

Third, a trivial comment: the article says that the department has an additional “85 legal professionals.” The honorific “professional” suffers when everyone – file clerks, messengers, secretaries – carries the title.

The profile also mentions that “As attorneys we use the same project management system as the rest of the business.” I am not sure what that means. Is it matter management software? Is it a suite of online tools for capturing activities? Or could it be a set of terms and practices?

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One response to “Some topics from a profile of the general counsel of Marathon Oil”

  1. Tomas Jenkins says:

    Marathon’s net profit margin is slimmer than its peers in the oil industry as well as many of those in the F100 rankings. In fact its NPM is closer to that of a retailer such as WalMart. WalMart is 7 to 8 times larger, so if it has the same ratio of lawyers then perhaps income is also an influencer and should be factored into your equation.