Posted Jun 05, 2010 12:35 am CDT
The economy is showing some signs of recovery—including a gain of 300 legal-sector jobs in May, versus the loss of hundreds the previous month, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
But accounts of the legal employment market still paint a grim picture of the situation many attorneys and law firm staff are facing. The legal sector has lost 400 jobs since March and 22,200 since May of 2009, reports the Am Law Daily, relying on BLS numbers.
And other surveys and anecdotal reports suggest that a significant number of attorneys, ranging from recent law graduates to seasoned practitioners, are settling for lesser positions, including nonlegal jobs, when they are able to find work at all.
A week ago, for instance, Wiggin & Nourie announced that it would be cutting its attorney roster by 20 percent, through a combination of layoffs and attrition, and reducing the size of its offices.
“We’ve had a combination of layoffs and a few resignations,” Richard “Rick” Strawbridge told the New Hampshire Union Leader, which reported that three shareholder positions are being eliminated.
At least one associate is also among a number of generalists being cut and paralegal and support staff jobs are being reduced, too, says Strawbridge, a nonlawyer who serves as the firm’s chief operating officer.
Meanwhile, a law student who took a leave of absence to open a delicatessen in New York considers himself lucky, as detailed in a previous ABAJournal.com post: Most of the people he keeps in touch with who graduated this year are taking bar review courses without a definite job to look forward to at the end of the summer.
ABAJournal.com: “Have JD, Now What? Many Law Grads Get Jobs, But Not Dream Careers”
ABAJournal.com: “25% of In-House Lawyers Report Less Work for Outside Firms, Survey Says”
ABAJournal.com: “Law Prof Surveys Legal Secretaries, Chronicles Layoffs, Conflicts with Female Lawyers”
Wisconsin Law Journal: “Support staff hit hard by ongoing law firm cuts”