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Are Layoffs Over? Most Law Firm and Corporate Lawyers Surveyed Think So

Posted Mar 27, 2009 7:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: A new survey of lawyers at law firms and corporations found that 65 percent don’t anticipate any more thinning in their ranks within the next year.

The survey by Robert Half Legal asked 300 attorneys whether they expected the number of lawyers employed by their firms or corporate legal departments to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next year.

Sixty-five percent expected the number to stay the same, 25 percent expected an increase, and 10 percent expected a decrease, according to a press release.

Will the lawyers' assessments prove true? Their prognostication may have been too optimistic in a Robert Half survey last year. At that time 45 percent of lawyers believed there would be an increase in hiring, 50 percent said staffing levels would remain the same, and only 3 percent anticipated a decrease, according to the National Law Journal.

The latest survey included lawyers in both the United States and Canada and was conducted in February. All the respondents had at least three years of experience.

A press release said the respondents were from larger corporations and firms, but Robert Half's executive director Charles Volkert told the NLJ the survey is representative of firms of all sizes, and that may explain the optimism. Most layoffs have been at the nation's large firms, he told the publication.

This year's survey also asked what areas of law will most likely experience growth. Respondents most often named bankruptcy, with 51 percent expecting it to grow. Thirty-one percent said litigation would be the best growth area.

Volkert said in the press release that there is a demand for two kinds of lawyers: litigators with three or more years of experience handling all phases of litigation, and bankruptcy associates. Jobs are available on both a full-time and project basis, he said.

Updated at 9:35 a.m. CT to include information from the National Law Journal.


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