More Jobs Added to the Legal Sector

The last quarter of 2013 was great for the growing legal sector! Earlier, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed statistics for the last quarter of the legal sector. A solid 800 jobs were created for those in the legal industry in December.  And, although November lost 1,400 jobs in the legal sector, 300 more than the 1,100 originally stated, October was reported to have created over 7,000 jobs for the legal services industries. As a result, this quarter closed out the 2013 year with the highest average monthly figure of employment for the legal industry at 1.13 million.  The next recorded highest average was before the fiscal crisis in 2008. The average monthly figure for employment in the legal industry at this time was 1.127 million employed. This 3,000 job difference shows an impressive feat for the legal sector, hopefully predicting a full recovery from the ongoing economic slump following the fiscal crisis of 2008.

These positive statistics could not come at a better time for the legal sector. In 2013, the industry was bashed for its high unemployment rate, with many articles written about the overall worth of a law degree in the upcoming years. Law school applications reached a 30 year low, down by as much as 38%. Several law school graduates are unable to find work, with many graduates only able to find part-time minimum wage jobs. This is particularly crushing for students after spending on average around $150,000 and three years of their lives for a law degree. Many universities have been proactive about this trend to help students. Arizona State University plans to open its own non-profit law firm to employ their graduates that would otherwise be on the unemployment roll. The efforts made by universities and the government seems to be working in accord with December statistics, with hopes that next year’s employment rate for recent law graduates will be up from its current meager 56%. Optimism is beginning to rise in the sector amid these unemployment statistics, due to the continued addition of jobs to the industry in 2013. While the rate of change may be slow, it provides hope for a continuing upward employment trend in the profession.

The overall economy of 2013 showed an uptick in employment, adding 74,000 jobs to the overall workforce. However, this 74,000 increase fell short of what economists predicted. Statisticians reported the overall unemployment rate to fall from 7% to 6.7% percent in the month of December – A reduction which is consistent with the steady addition of jobs added into the economy.

Employment in professional and business services trended up in December, creating 19,000 new jobs. This figure includes the new jobs created in the legal sector. This slow and steady growth kept the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons (unable to find full time-work) unchanged at 7.8 million in December. This unchanged figure continues to support conclusions of the economy’s slow, yet steady, growth. This trend of particularly slow growth is extremely evident in the legal sector, with its overall unemployment rate much higher than that of the overall workforce.  Steady growth in the legal sector, although slow, is a positive trend in an industry that suffered during the economic downturn.

Jacqueline Hill, Esq.

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Jacqueline Hill is a partner at Lexacount Search, where she places top senior-level and other legal talent with law firms and corporate legal departments across the United States. She has been writing about careers, lawyers, attorney professional development, and the legal industry for more than a decade. She can be reached at jacqueline.hill@lexacount.com or 215-740-0104, extension 101.

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