Nearly Half of Surveyed Lawyers Gripe It's Difficult to Find Skilled Professionals

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Legal hiring is on the increase in both law firms and corporations, but lawyers who are benefiting are those with experience in hot practice areas, according to a new report by Robert Half Legal.

The search for attorneys with the right experience has led to a tight job market and complaints by some hiring lawyers, according to the report and a Robert Half Legal survey of 200 lawyers working at the nation’s largest law firms and corporations. Forty-nine percent of the lawyers polled said it is challenging for their law firms or companies to find skilled legal professionals today.

Law firms are expanding lucrative practice groups in areas such as litigation, health care, bankruptcy and corporate transactions, according to the report (PDF), the “Robert Half Legal 2012 Salary Guide.” Firms are hiring experienced associates, particularly those in high-demand practice areas such as litigation, employment, real estate and corporate law. Experienced paralegals with litigation and e-discovery backgrounds are also in big demand.

Corporations, meanwhile, are expanding their in-house legal teams and hiring more paralegals. Companies are also hiring more compliance managers, contract managers and contract administrators, and are looking at candidates for some of these positions with law degrees.

The news isn’t as good for new law school graduates, however. Firms still are not recruiting newly minted associates in significant numbers.

According to the report’s 2012 salary outlook, salaries will range from $164,000 to $246,000 for senior lawyers with up to 10 years of experience at large firms, to $50,000 to $73,000 for first-year associates at small firms. Senior paralegals at large firms can earn as much as $84,000, compliance managers can make as much as $98,000, and contract managers can make as much as $101,000.

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