Legal hiring remains sluggish and there are not signs of improvements on the horizon through the fourth quarter of 2012. According to a report released by Robert Half, a little over 30% of lawyers interviewed in law firms and corporate legal departments were planning to hire. That means that the greater majority, nearly 70% don’t.
What’s driving the hiring? Since the recession, we have yet to see hiring driven by growth. In other words, hiring is limited to instances where adding a headcount will reduce cost or improve productivity. In other words, corporate legal departments are only selectively hiring if the legal hires are capable of handling legal work in-house more cheaply than outsourcing it to a law firm. Law firms are seeking attorneys with solid business development skills and client portfolios to expand practice groups in high-demand specialties such as health care and corporate law.
In short, this is still leaving a lot of lawyers in the cold. The only “pick-up” in hiring activity seems to be centered on full-time legal staff including paralegals, legal secretaries, and contract administrators. Why? Because they are more economical to hire than full-fledged lawyers. The practice areas that are generating the most interest in-house remain corporate, compliance, and privacy.