In this column, I share some findings about how much law departments vary on key metrics from one year to the next. To start, I looked at data from 60 law departments that participated in the General Counsel Metrics survey last year (providing their 2009 staffing and spending data) and have done so again already this year (with 2010 data). Of those 60 companies, 40 of them are US-based. In total, their 2,500 lawyers supported 2010 revenue of $588 billion.
First I looked at the percentage change from one year to the next in lawyers per billion dollars of revenue. The average difference between the two figures was less than a percent, meaning the average ratio for the group as a whole barely moved. Of the 60 departments, 27 of them showed a difference for the 2010 ratio at 90 percent of the 2009 number-- they were within ten percent or less lower on lawyers per billion-- and 110 percent-- they were ten percent or less higher. The median differential was slightly smaller, at 97.4 percent, so as a group the lawyers-per-revenue median benchmark shrank ever so slightly. A three percent decline might not even be statistically meaningful.