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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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