Law Firm Hirings: the Present Story

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The problems are likely to continue. There were many hiring schemes that have been in vogue for many years now, which are now having a dire effect on the working of various law firms. Not every law firm has resorted to laying off employees, but what is amusing today, is that no law firm is willing to bide by their long-standing principles, or so-called ''office culture,'' when they are cutting down jobs intermittently. Saving the firm’s bottom line is more important to them today, in light of the growing uncertainties of the future.

According to analysts, this is not a long-term solution, because lawyers are primary assets to any law firm. Recent economic reports state that the demand for legal services has shrunk considerably. Some firms are crowded with lawyers, but legal work is down to a trickle. Additionally, drops in profits per partner and revenue generated per lawyer were reported last year.



A note about the current trend: most associates are not interested in continuing with a single law firm. Similarly, the firms are not interested in retaining them. Most of the associates who are getting laid off have barely been in their firms for three to four years. Meanwhile first-year associates are treated unfairly, and with literally no respect, in many law firms.

Salary cuts on all fronts seem to be the solution for some of the lawyers. By reassessing the pay packages, many think that law firms will be able to regulate the inside proceedings with the help of extracting work from second- and third-year associates. Though major firms will not stop recruiting first-year associates, they will surely reduce the number this summer. It is very important to put only as much food on our plates as we can eat.

Even if the stimulus plan fails to provide that much-needed stimulus to various industries in the US, it is difficult for law firm partners to be patient enough and pay associates and partners as though everything is normal. At least, according to many research analysts, the best part will be removal of wasteful practices and nonsensical rules that once dominated the legal practice.

Another major aspect of the legal hiring is that in today’s tight legal market, law firms are more concerned about a candidate’s background and career goals than anything else. The Internet is also playing a pivotal role in providing legal aspirants a virtual platform to prove themselves and make their claims faster than others for a specific position. Yes, ''e-due diligence'' is a term that did not exist before, but today everybody is waking up to social networking websites as a major player in legal hiring. It is said 44 percent of legal employers find candidates on Facebook, MySpace, and other networking sites like LinkedIn, according to Vault’s 2008 Social Networking Web Site Survey. About 82 percent said their hiring decisions would be highly impacted.

According to Robert Half International, the most popular and in-demand positions include:
  • Bankruptcy/foreclosure attorneys: These are basically attorneys who have specialized in this practice area for more than five years.

  • Patent prosecution attorneys: These are attorneys who have at least three years’ experience in patents, or they have an engineering background.

  • Litigation paralegals: These are attorneys who have more than three years’ experience in litigation procedures like discovery, motion, and trial preparation support.

  • In-house attorneys: These are attorneys who specialize in transactional law and have regulatory and corporate securities experience.

  • Foreclosure legal secretaries and legal support professionals: These are attorneys with more than two years of foreclosure and legal experience plus impeccable computer skills.



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