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LawCrossing: Attorney Jobs in Western States Continue to Increase; Law Firm Openings Expand in Many Regions

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LawCrossing, the website with the largest collection of legal jobs in the world, released a statistical report on changes since March 2006 in the number of legal vacancies by region and employer type. The report reflects changes in the demand for attorneys and legal staff in various practice areas throughout the U.S. for the period between March 16, 2006 and April 15, 2006. Overall, the data indicate varied growth in openings for attorneys in most practice areas and locations, with the West leading the way, while legal staff positions continue to evolve.

LawCrossing's team of 200 researchers and editors monitors the hiring needs of more than 1.2 million legal employers. With more than 100,000 legal jobs in the U.S currently in the database, the website counts tens of thousands of law students, attorneys, and legal staff professionals as members. The data suggests a strong increase in the demand for attorneys in the majority of practice areas, with the demand particularly high in the West. The widespread expansion in attorney vacancies in that region is evidenced by a 35-percent increase in the past month. "Growth in the West has been remarkable," said LawCrossing CEO Harrison Barnes. "For some time now, we've seen this pattern of expansion in all the region's practice areas, especially in government positions."

After last year's expansion of federal government and the corresponding increase in openings, growth in this area has tapered off in some regions, such as the South and Northeast. "Government agencies are becoming leading employers of attorneys in federal, state, and local branches; the previous spike in job growth last year has settled in to reflect similar regional demand that we see in other practice areas," said Barnes. Law firm positions, on the other hand, which had been decreasing in recent surveys, are now experiencing definite, if slow, increases in nearly all regions, with an 11-percent growth in the South and a substantial 32-percent increase in the West.

Legal staff positions are in the process of evolving. The older, traditional posts in administration, libraries, and reception are showing fewer vacancies, while marketing and information technology is expanding. "The importance of a good IT department can't be overstated these days," commented Barnes. "The business world in general, and law firms in particular, depends on their IT professionals. The expansion is dramatic, but it's part of a long-established trend." Marketing is also a growing feature of the legal world, with the need to remain competitive in retaining clients and finding new ones inspiring many firms to expand their departments. "The landscape of law is changing," Barnes said. "Different things are expected of law firms, and the new opportunities reflect that change."

Regions Change in Number of Attorney Jobs by Employer Type from 3/16/06 to 4/15/06
  Law Firms In-house Government Overall Change
Northeast +1.84% -4.91% -19.67% -2.13%
Mid-Atlantic +4.58% -7.72% +11.18% +1.78%
South +11.45% -4.13% -26.84% +1.75%
Midwest -0.27% -8.44% -17.73% -5.4%
Southwest -4.29% -1.46% -12.4% -4.96%
West +32.39% +29.73% +42.72% +32.54%
Overall Change +9.99% +0.08% -6.33%  
Legal Staff Practice Areas Change in Number of Jobs from 3/16/06 to 4/15/06
Accounting/Finance -40.60%
Human Resources -25.53%
Information Technology +177.39%
Legal Administrator -60.27%
Legal Secretary +15.92%
Librarian -39.88%
Marketing +84.80%
Paralegal +21.08%
Receptionist -89.93%

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