Actually, Legal Jobs Aren’t Recovering

While the job market is recovering from the recession quite nicely (that’s the blue line), legal jobs aren’t doing quite so well, at least according to this chart from the American Lawyer. (Follow that link for an interactive version of the chart.)

Since legal employment bottomed out in 2009 Q4, the net gain is just about 100,000 jobs. That’s something, but with 35–40,000 new lawyers every year, it’s not nearly enough. Besides, look at that sad little hill in the red line. Firms started hiring, then apparently realized the work wasn’t coming back and laid off everyone they hired back. Then, the market went flat. For most of 2014 it looks like any new job openings must have been due to attrition, not growth.

That’s a depressing chart.

(h/t Keith Lee)

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  • I fixed the chart.

  • jbwilson24

    Thanks for the chart and post. I wonder how much automation, offshoring (etc) are playing a part. Talking to the CEOs of the big outsourcing corporations, their business is booming.

    • I’m sure it’s taking its toll. I haven’t tried to find numbers on doc review jobs, but after taking a look at eBrevia and Diligence Engine, I’d expect to see a sharp dropoff. Why hire an army of temporary doc reviewers when software will do the job at a fraction of the cost?

  • Paul Spitz

    One problem is that if you are a new grad and you don’t get a law job in your first year out, you will be competing against even newer grads. Employers will consider you to be past your sell-by date. That’s why any new grad without a job needs to get out there, find some clients, do some legal work, and get experience. If that turns into a job, great. If it turns into a solo practice, great. The one thing you don’t want to do is waste your time working at Starbucks and sending out resumes.

    • So very true. Another problem is the, “seeking 3 – 5 years experience” threshold that newly minted lawyers cannot meet. It’s tough when you need experience to gain experience.

  • gaelorian

    Dear Most People:

    Don’t go to law school.

    However, if you have a full ride or someone paying for it and have a solid connection for a legal job afterwards then go for it. But, without those things, law school will be a losing proposition for most people.

    Regards,
    Some asshole on the Internet