The legal field is expected to see steady hiring with litigation projected to yield the greatest job prospects. One-quarter of lawyers interviewed by Robert Half Legal predict that their law firms or companies will add legal jobs in the first half of 2017.
This compares to 31 percent six months ago and 24 percent one year ago. Fifty-nine percent of lawyers said they plan to only fill vacant posts in the next six months, while 11 percent said they would neither fill vacant positions nor create new ones. No respondents anticipate staff reductions.
Legal Hiring Environment in the United States*
Expanding/adding new positions
Maintaining/filling vacated positions
Freezing/not filling vacated positions or creating new ones
Don’t know/no answer
*Some responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.
View an infographic of the research highlights.
Other Key Findings
- Sixty-three percent of lawyers said finding skilled legal professionals is somewhat or very challenging, while 38 percent of survey respondents expressed concern about losing legal personnel to other job opportunities in the next six months.
- Thirty-five percent of lawyers said that, aside from compensation or bonus, flexible work arrangements provide the greatest incentive for legal professionals to remain with an employer. Challenging work or variety of assignments ranked second, receiving 33 percent of the survey response, followed by professional development opportunities, at 15 percent.
“Law firms in particular are recruiting highly skilled experts with backgrounds in commercial litigation, insurance defense and eDiscovery to help them manage rising caseloads and meet client needs,” said Charles Volkert, senior district president of Robert Half Legal. “As a result, legal professionals with five-plus years of litigation experience are in strong demand and many are receiving multiple job offers.”
Volkert added that as employers increasingly compete for highly skilled legal professionals, retention remains a top priority. “The loss of a tenured attorney not only adversely impacts client service, it also can affect a firm’s profitability,” said Volkert.
Litigation Expertise in Demand
Litigation is expected to yield the most job opportunities from January through June of 2017, according to 40 percent of attorneys surveyed. Within the litigation practice area, commercial litigation was identified as the leading driver of job growth, receiving 39 percent of the survey response.
Lawyers were asked, “Which one of the following practice areas will offer the greatest number of job opportunities in the first half of 2017?” Their responses:**
General business/commercial law
Regulatory or compliance
Labor and employment
None/don’t know/no answer
**Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.
Lawyers who cited “litigation” as a response were also asked, “Which of the following areas of litigation, if any, will offer the greatest job opportunities in the first half of 2017?” Their responses:***
Securities and corporate governance
***Multiple responses were permitted.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers in the United States: 100 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.
About Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the premier provider of legal staffing and consulting solutions for law firms and corporate legal departments. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal provides a customized approach, including managed review, legal project management and eDiscovery services, to help organizations handle constantly changing workloads. The company offers in-demand expertise across practice areas as well as highly skilled legal professionals on a temporary, project and full-time basis. More information about our full suite of legal staffing and consulting solutions can be found at roberthalf.com/legal. For career and management advice, follow our Legal Blog at roberthalf.com/legal/blog.
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