According to the Law Society’s “Trends in Solicitor’s Profession Annual Statistical Report,” published in 2003, 12,889 (14.5% of all 89,045 solicitors holding a Practicing Certificate) worked as “Employed Solicitors.” Within that group, 6,081 (6.8% of the total) worked in Commerce & Industry and 3,097 (3.5%) worked for “local government.” Note that the article from which I resurrected this titillating data did not explain whether there might be another category, “national government,” or whether the term used encompasses all government lawyers. The C&I lawyers averaged 2.6 per department. This data comes from Gill Hague, “Factors Affecting the Use of Information and Communications Technology by In-House Legal Practices in North West England,” J. Info. Law and Tech., Dec. 15, 2004.
I believe the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has estimated 70,000 law-department lawyers in the US, a total which excludes government lawyers. If so, that group makes up about seven percent of all US lawyers – amazingly close to the 6.8 percent in the UK in 2002. Likewise, the median corporate law department in the US probably has approximately 2 lawyers, but I am only speculating from my impression that ACC has many 1 and 2 lawyer members. If the ratio in the UK survey of almost two corporate lawyers for every local government lawyer holds in the US, the latter might have something like 35,000 government lawyers.