Increased business confidence and continued legal hiring are expected in the fourth quarter of 2010. Twenty-nine percent of lawyers interviewed for The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index plan to add legal jobs, while 6 percent anticipate declines, resulting in a net 23 percent increase in projected hiring activity. In addition, the majority (88 percent) of survey respondents said they were at least somewhat confident in their organizations’ ability to expand during the next quarter.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.
“As the economy regains its footing, legal organizations continue to make strategic hires to support active practice groups,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Law firms, in particular, are expanding their legal teams to improve service offerings and meet client demands.”
Volkert suggested that lawyers may be anticipating new business opportunities tied to the economy and government regulation. Bankruptcy/foreclosure, fueled by recession-related filings and corporate restructuring, is the area of law expected to experience the most growth in the next three months, garnering 24 percent of the total response. Litigation ranked second (18 percent) and healthcare was a close third (17 percent) among lawyers interviewed for the report.
Nearly half (45 percent) of lawyers said it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals. “Despite high unemployment rates, the market remains competitive for candidates with experience in growing practice areas,” said Volkert. Survey participants identified lawyers (95 percent) as the type of full-time legal position they intend to add followed by legal secretaries/assistants (36 percent) and paralegals (26 percent). “Demand for associates who can generate revenue and support staff who can perform multiple job functions should remain strong in the coming months,” Volkert said.•