Data from the General Counsel Metrics (GCM) global benchmark survey, with more than 700 law departments and still collecting data, gives a much more nuanced view of total legal spending.
The 63 participating companies with 2009 revenue of at least $20 billion had median total legal spending as a percentage of revenue of 0.22 percent. The 62 departments with revenue less than $20 billion but more than $10 billion had a median of 0.31 percent, while the 56 below $10 billion but greater than $4.16 billion (the smallest Fortune 500 company) had a median of 0.30 percent.
Overall for these giant companies, median total legal spending – inside spend plus external counsel spend – was 0.29 percent. That figure is much smaller than the 0.40 percent touted by the Thomson HildebrandtBaker Robbins survey – admittedly much smaller than General Counsel Metrics’– because larger companies exhibit economies of scale in terms of legal expenditures.
Of the GCM group, 65 percent were US companies so the global reach of the group – 35 percent non-US — is apparent. Moreover, at least 59 general counsel personally filled out the survey on behalf of the huge companies, thus giving significant assurance of accuracy.
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