U.S. Legal Jobs Continue to Increase

by Carlos Carrasco


Legal jobsLegal professionals– good news regarding the legal jobs market has been recently released. A recent study shows that the legal services sector had a positive increase in jobs in August 2013, indicating that law firm casework load may be picking up.

Legal Jobs On The Rise

The U.S. legal services sector gained 2,700 jobs in August 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics bringing the total number of jobs in the legal sector to 1,128,700.[1]  The government figures include paralegals, associates and secretaries, and other payroll workers. According to the Bureau of Labor, the latest jump in legal sector jobs contributed to an increase of 169,000 jobs in the United States overall, including a 23,000 job increase in the professional services sector.

This new influx of legal jobs, along with the increase in blended rates paid to law firms[2] suggests that casework load for law firms may be increasing, creating a need for more legal professionals to help manage this additional work, while ensuring that their clients are still being adequately served. This increase in jobs a positive sign for a field that has recently seen a dramatic decrease in job openings and the number of associates employed in law firms.[3]

It will be interesting to see if jobs increase in September 2013; an increase in September would be the third consecutive month that legal jobs increased— July saw 1,126,000 employed in the legal services sector, up from 1,124,700 in June. A job increase in the legal services sector for three consecutive months is something that cannot be ignored, especially given the field’s recent history. A three-month increase may be the first step in changing the current perception of the legal field and about law school.

Impact on Law Schools

After the latest recession, many prospective law students have decided not to apply to law school due to fears that they may not be able to get a job after graduating, even if they are accepted and admitted to one of the nation’s finer law schools. While impossible to predict the future, especially future employment figures, data showing a steady increase in legal jobs may encourage student to once again apply to law school and may help reverse the current state of law applications, which are near a 30-year low.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the legal market over the last three years, we can only hope that the new increase in legal jobs, combined with the increase in blended rates paid to law firms, is a sign of good things to come for the legal industry and perhaps a signal that things may finally be taking a turn for the better.[4]

Posted by Carlos Carrasco
Sept. 16, 2013

[1] http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/09/06/legal-services-sector-adds-2700-jobs-in-august/
[2] Blended rates paid to law firms increased by 6.2% from Q1 2013 to Q2 2013 despite the fall in hours purchased and fees paid by clients. See http://www.law.com/corporatecounsel/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202616217210&rss=rss_cc
[3] Remember, it was only three months ago that Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, a law firm with 1,200 lawyers, laid off 170 associates and staff members. See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323683504578565383059487410.html
[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/education/law-schools-applications-fall-as-costs-rise-and-jobs-are-cut.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0


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