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Wide gap between two benchmark surveys on total law department costs per lawyer

ALM Legal Intelligence obtained 2009 data from 116 law departments. Findings from that survey appear in Corp. Counsel, Dec. 2010 at 85, including total law department fees/expenses (inside and outside) per lawyer. Each of five columns represents a group of participating law departments with different numbers of lawyers. For example, 2-to-3 lawyers was $623,634, the lowest figure; 4-to-10 lawyers was the highest at $901,065. For departments with a single lawyer, 11-25 lawyers, or more than 26 lawyers, the total legal spend per lawyer was around $700,000.

These benchmark findings surprise me as too low. We are not told how many departments fell into each size category, but nearly all the participants are US law departments so I compared the same benchmark metric from my General Counsel Metrics survey. GCM has 358 participants from the USA, of which at least 22 took part in the ALM survey. Yet, total legal spending per lawyer was much higher than the ALM figures. My figure is $914,290. I do not understand the huge gap, on the order of $200,000 per lawyer or 30 percent higher, between the two surveys.

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