This metric is not only not a main pole in the benchmarking tent, it shouldn’t even be a stake or a guy wire. I do not think this metric has value – save in the case of comparing HR/employment lawyers (See my post of July 20, 2005 on practice area benchmarks.) – because the number of employees in different corporations that have the same product and service mix can sway high and low. One company might use many offshore employees who are paid little, another may be capital but not labor intensive, another might have an active and skilled HR group, still another might use outside counsel extensively, and so on.
With so many variables, the lawyers-per-employee metric shrinks to uselessness (Yet see my post of Dec. 22, 2005 that refers to 2.55 lawyers per 1,000 US employees.). Perhaps total legal spend per 1,000 employees suffers from the same will-o-the-wisp variability.