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Legal Industry Sees Strong Job Growth
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Summary: Bureau of Labor data indicates an added 2,000 jobs for June in the legal sector despite a number of layoffs at large law firms.

The status of the U.S. legal industry is remaining steady for another month. Preliminary figures by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics are showing an additional 2,000 jobs in the industry. This increase matches the overall economy of the country’s employment status.


For the third straight month, the number of legal jobs has increased. May reported 1,128,800 legal jobs but June upped that to 1,130,800 legal jobs. The legal employment numbers count lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries, and other legal staff. The figures are provisional and may be revised at a later time.

The year started off rough for the legal industry. Between January and March, the number of jobs dropped by 2,500 but it has since bounced back by adding 7,500 jobs. Since the recession in May 2007 when the number of jobs in the legal industry was 1.18 million, the legal sector has experienced ups and downs. Since 2013, the number of legal jobs has generally sat around 1.12 million and 1.13 million. That is only about 50,000 jobs fewer than pre-recession highs.

Even with 2,000 jobs added this past month, the legal industry has seen a lot of cuts to jobs over the past several months. Large law firms have been especially affected by job cuts with Andrews Kurth Kenyon starting the pattern of layoffs. They announced their cuts in March with Dentons also announcing cuts that same month. Dentons is also reported to have asked partners to leave after having a budget shortfall in 2016.

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Recently, Seyfarth Shaw announced they would be handing down cuts to their staff and lawyers due to a soft demand in the first quarter. Reports indicate that around 40 lawyers and staff were let go. Sedgwick closed their Austin office just this week. The office had a paralegal and three attorneys. They have already made similar moves in Florida, Houston and Fort Lauderdale.

The overall U.S. economy added 220,000 jobs in June according to initial BLS data. Over the past three months, the country has averaged 194,000 added jobs per month. Over the past six months, it has averaged around 180,000 jobs a month, just slightly above last year’s numbers. The unemployment rate is keeping steady around 4.4 percent, a 0.4 percent decrease since January.

The Labor Department also shows an increase, although small, in hourly wages in private, nonfarm jobs. The average hourly rate increased to $26.25 in June, up 4 cents from May. This is up 2.5 per cent from last year, putting the trend on a slower rate than what a healthy economy would be showing of 3.5 per cent increase each year.

Are you surprised that the industry has added jobs when there have been so many layoffs in the past few months? Do you think things will continue to increase or will there be a drop in jobs? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about past reports, read these articles:



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