Law Firm General Counsel Trend Accelerates

(NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA, MAY 9, 2006)— A recent Altman Weil Flash Survey of AmLaw 200 law firms reports that 85% of responding firms have a designated general counsel, up from 69% in 2005 and 63% in 2004.  Seventeen percent of the firms without a general counsel plan to designate one in the next twelve months.

“This represents a marked acceleration of the trend toward creation of the position in major US law firms,” according to Altman Weil principal Ward Bower.

Bower presented results of the Altman Weil 2006 Flash Survey on Law Firm General Counsel at the Law Firm Liability Conference, hosted by American Lawyer Media in New York today. 

As in prior years, 100% of the designated law firm general counsel are in-house.  Eighty-nine percent are partners in the firm.  Eighty percent come from a litigation background. 

Over one-third are full time in the general counsel position with average cash compensation over $500,000.  Part-time law firm general counsel report higher cash compensation ($612,000), “most likely due to their fee production in the non-general counsel part of their jobs,” noted Bower.  Part-time general counsel spend just under half their time (48%) on duties of the position.

Over two-thirds report to the firm Chair or Managing Partner, but only 28% serve on the firm’s governing committee, down from 40% in 2004. “That is probably a reflection of an attempt to retain objectivity and protect client privilege,” according to Bower. 

Areas of greatest importance to law firm general counsel are issues relating to professional responsibility, professional liability, advising law firm management and employment of outside counsel. 

About the Survey
Survey data was collected in March 2006 from AmLaw 200 law firms, with 42% participating (82 of the 195 firms solicited).  The full report of the tabulated data appears on the Altman Weil website at

About Altman Weil
Founded in 1970, Altman Weil, Inc. provides management consulting services to law firms, law departments and legal vendors throughout North America, Latin America, the U.K. and Europe. Altman Weil is known for the many legal economic and management surveys it conducts and publishes, including the Survey of Law Firm Economics.


Contact Information

Ward Bower
Altman Weil, Inc.

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