Facts & Figures: Businesses spending more on both in-house and outside counsel

From legal salary discrepancies to Douglas Arnsten’s sentencing, an inside look at the numbers that count

Flagging Faith

Much of the American public has already lost faith in the executive and legislative branches of government, so perhaps it’s no surprise that many people have doubts about the judiciary as well. In its first poll for the Defense Research Institute, Langer Research Associates found that less than 10 percent of respondents were “very confident” that civil courts were fair, while more than half admitted that they themselves would be biased against corporations if serving on a jury.

41% Respondents who are not confident that the civil law system is fair and just

54% Respondents who would favor an individual over a corporation in a lawsuit

59% Respondents who reported a bias against insurance companies, the most bias against any type of business

32% People who said they would be biased against small businesses, the least bias against any business

64% People who would favor a small business over a large corporation in a lawsuit

Imprisoned Embezzler

The long saga of Douglas Arntsen is finally over, as the former Crowell & Moring associate was sentenced to jail Thursday for embezzling money from his former clients. Beginning in 2009, Arntsen stole millions of dollars from several escrow accounts that the firm maintained and spent the cash on expensive meals, sports tickets and strip clubs, according to prosecutors. The party ended in 2011, however, when authorities arrested Arntsen following his flight to Hong Kong. Read on for the numbers behind his sentencing:

4 Charges to which Arntsen pled guilty (three counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud)

4-12 years Length of Arntsen’s prison sentence

$10.8 million Restitutions that he must make to two clients in addition to his prison term

Spending Surge

According to a recent HBR Consulting survey of 260 companies, in 2010 and 2011, businesses spent more on both in-house legal departments and outside counsel than they did in the preceding two years. More than half of the companies surveyed reported that they had added more staff lawyers in the two years covered by the survey. See more of their responses below:

5% Median increase in international legal spend among respondents

4% Median increase in U.S. legal spending

$458 Average hourly rate for the three top-billing U.S. firms, up more than $45 from the last survey

Mounting Mergers

Law firm mergers rebounded in the third quarter of this year and continue to keep pace with 2011. The vast majority of these unions involved at least one firm with fewer than 25 lawyers, a trend that appears likely to continue in the fourth quarter: Three such mergers were announced early this month.

14 Total number of law firm mergers in the third quarter of 2012, the same number as in the same period last year

12 Number of those mergers involving a firm with fewer than 25 attorneys

39 Overall mergers announced thus far in 2012

35 Number of the above mergers that involved at least one firm with fewer than 25 lawyers

Jobs Jump

Jack Welch’s skepticism notwithstanding, the national jobs report released earlier this month seemed to signal good news for the economy, and the legal sector was no exception. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the legal services sector is now at its highest employment number since May 2009. Read on for more encouraging data:

1,000 Number of jobs the legal services sector added in September

1.120 million Total number of legal services jobs in September, up from 1.119 million in August

7.8% National unemployment rate, the lowest since January 2009

Stagnant Salaries

It’s no surprise that lawyers at private law firms earn more than public sector attorneys, but recently released research from the Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) further highlights that gap. According to the NALP, starting salaries for attorneys in the public sector have just kept pace with inflation over the past decade, potentially discouraging debt-ridden law school grads from entering the field.

$43,000 Median entry-level salary for a legal services attorney in the public sector

$65,000 Median salary for legal services attorneys with between 11 and 15 years of experience

$50,500 Median entry-level salary for a public defender

$78,600 Median salary for public defenders with 11 to 15 years of experience

$80,000 Median starting salary at a law firm with 50 or fewer attorneys

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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