With the recent federal government shutdown entering its 10th day, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, among other government agencies, have stopped doing work, including legal work. Because of this, there is expected to be a slowdown in regulatory negotiations with the FTC and DOJ over the review of pending mergers. Pending mergers could be postponed so that deals won’t close until 2014 (instead of the end of 2013).
Impact on legal jobs
Why is this important to law firms? It’s not only affecting numerous government agencies, but also the law firms that work alongside them. Law firms are expected to see some delays and a decreasing workload thanks to the government shutdown. The types of law likely to experience delays include mergers and acquisitions, antitrust, government investigations, and contracts. Obviously less work means less legal jobs.
The impact of the shutdown on law firms depends on how long it lasts, according to lawyers. For example, the government shutdown could drop the number of billable hours in 2013’s final quarter and pose a risk to what law firms were expected to see in revenue for the end of the year.
This is disappointing especially after the news that legal jobs increased in August 2013 and law firms saw an increase in blended rates. The longer the government shutdown lasts, the more likely it appears that the increase in blended rates for some law firms— especially those involved in work with governmental agencies and matters—could be negated by the loss of revenue due to the government shutdown.
With many recent law school grads increasingly challenged to find legal jobs, let’s hope the shutdown doesn’t continue for much longer.