Tough times for lawyers

November 9, 2009
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It’s been a tough year for attorneys, especially associates, according to the National Law Journal’s 2009 NLJ 250. In fact, the publication reports that this is the worst year for attorneys as far as how many are practicing since it began counting lawyers at big firms 32 years ago.

Based on NLJ’s research, more than 5,200 attorneys are no longer working at the top 250 firms; associates and “other” attorneys were hit the hardest. The percentage of those attorneys shrank by nearly 9 percent each. Not surprisingly, partner employment remained about the same.

The NLJ estimates a 4 percent drop in attorney headcount as compared to last year. This is only the third time headcount has dropped since the NLJ has been keeping track of attorneys at the top firms and is the biggest drop it’s seen. The publication also believes this may just be the beginning of declining attorney numbers.

Several firms with Indiana ties made the top 250 list, including: Littler Mendelson at 45; Barnes & Thornburg at 87; Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart at 100; Frost Brown Todd at 113; Taft Stettinius & Hollister at 139; Baker & Daniels at 149; and Ice Miller at 169.

Of the big three based in Indiana, Barnes had the best results by jumping up nearly 20 places from last year. The firm even bucked the trend and added seven associates. Baker and Ice both dropped compared to last year. Baker added 12 attorneys, but reduced the number of associates by 24. Ice lost 16 attorneys and reduced its associate numbers by 13.

Are you surprised at how Indiana firms faired? Is this really just the beginning of the downturn for top law firms or will the economy improve in time for next year’s numbers to be better?
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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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