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Unusual visibility into some aspects of the large litigation group at WellPoint

Of the 97 lawyers in WellPoint’s legal department, 27 of them make up its litigation department. That nearly one out of three lawyers in that department litigate puts it at the very highest end of the range of litigation lawyers as a percentage of all lawyers (See my post of Aug. 27, 2005: litigation staff as a proportion of law department staff.).

Last year the department spent approximately $48 million on outside counsel, about 55 percent of its total legal spend. That ratio is completely typical of large U.S. companies. What proportion of it goes to litigation is not disclosed (See my post of Oct. 24, 2007: cascade of 60% for components of legal spending.).

All the above we learn from Corp. Counsel, June 2011 at 73, plus “Half of WellPoint’s litigation matters are handled internally.” That is very unusual (See my post of Feb. 27, 2008: litigation loads and handling cases in-house through trial; and June 30, 2010: number of cases handled and number of outside counsel managed per inside litigation lawyer.). The article quotes the head litigation lawyer, Deputy General Counsel Ray Umstead: “Last year the litigation department was able to achieve at least a partial dismissal in more than 100 cases.” Here we have an example of a key performance metric.

Finally, the Wellpoint litigation group has 14 or 15 go-to firms across the country, three of which are designated as national panel firms (See my post of Dec. 7, 2010: coordinating counsel with 8 references.).