Survey predicts legal hiring

March 26, 2010
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The good news for unemployed attorneys and legal staff looking for work – nearly 25 percent of law firms or companies surveyed plan on increasing staff levels in the second quarter of this year. And none reported plans to decrease staff. The kind-of bad news: two-thirds don’t plan on doing anything. The rest answered they didn’t know.

A survey released by Robert Half Legal this month reports most lawyers at law firms and corporate lawyers say they will either increase staff or leave things as they are. If this survey is indicative of the whole market, that’s good news for those worried about layoffs.

Eighty percent of those same surveyed attorneys also are somewhat confident in their organization’s prospects for growth in the second quarter.

But what is really interesting about this survey is that about 40 percent of respondents said it’s challenging to find skilled legal professionals. Apparently, even though a single legal posting can generate several hundred resumes, not too many are qualified. Could it be firms are looking for a candidate with experience beyond what most unemployed attorneys have, or are firms looking for very specific qualifications that most attorneys wouldn’t meet anyway? The survey doesn’t say. In fact, the survey just says “legal professionals,” so I guess it’s possible hundreds of paralegals and legal secretaries are applying for a job opening that they aren’t qualified for.
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