I propose that the term “direct report” should apply only in those law departments that have at least one lawyer reporting to at least one non-GC lawyer. By this criterion, a six-lawyer department where all five report to the general counsel would have no “direct reports.” Yet, add one junior lawyer who reports to one of the five and all five of them could proudly call themselves “direct reports to the general counsel.” After all, the term itself suggests there are “indirect” reports – lawyers who are two levels or more below the general counsel.
A tougher definition, in the sense of being more exclusive, would restrict the designation “direct report” to those lawyers who have at least one lawyer reporting to them (or one person other than an administrative assistant or paralegal). In the example above, only one lawyer, by virtue of supervising the junior lawyer, would be entitled to be called a “direct report.”
If the law department world adopted either definition, it would drastically reduce the number of “direct reports” since so many law departments are so small that every lawyer reports to the top lawyer. Many in-house lawyers might object to both of these definitions because they will lose some resume-appeal.