Benchmark reports typically sort participants into recognized broad industries such as manufacturing, high tech, and pharmaceutical. Several times I have taken a swing at these traditional industry classifications because they have flaws or miss factors that might distinguish law departments more usefully. One post alone discusses six attributes that significantly influence legal department size: heavy regulation, significant R&D, mass torts, industry transformation, rapid growth, and corporate concentration (See my post of Dec. 7, 2010: factors that significantly affect legal exposure.).
For benchmark analyses, these attributes of companies – and their law departments by extension – may tell us more than the accustomed broad industry designations (See my post of March 2, 2010: industry benchmarks with 8 references; Dec. 1, 2010: industry ranking of legal intensity; and Dec. 27, 2010: “sector” data below broader “industries”.).
Consider several other attributes on which to group benchmark participants or to analyze those in a broad industry more finely.
Common carriers (See my post of Feb. 14, 2011: telecommunications, banking, energy, transportation, and utilities, for example.).
Patent licensors (See my post of Aug. 16, 2010: legal benchmarks reflect technological intensity and competitiveness; and Aug. 10, 2011: cell phone patents applied and granted.).
Manufacturers with large service components (See my post of Nov. 28, 2010: some manufacturers earn much of their revenue from services.).
Exporters (See my post of May 6, 2011: tradable and non-tradable sectors.).
Global spread (See my post of Dec. 11, 2010: five reasons why globally dispersed US law departments might have lower total legal spending; and April 30, 2011: globaloney.).
Industry maturity (See my post of June 4, 2009: legal knowledge codifies with industry maturity.).
Disproportionate amount of litigation (See my post of April 3, 2011: large profits may correlate with numerous lawsuits.).