The latest Robert Half Legal Hiring Survey reveals that for the first quarter of 2012, lawyers are still cautious about hiring, but “optimistic enough” to want to add personnel in key positions, both legal and support staff. And while the survey canvassed relatively small firms and corporations – 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees – approximately one-third of the lawyers interviewed plan to add legal staff in the next three months, while only 4 percent plan to reduce personnel. The net 27 percent increase in projected hiring is up three points from the previous quarter’s forecast.
Key findings include:
- Lawyers plan to add an average of two full-time positions.
- Lawyers will most likely hire lawyers (88%), paralegals (39%) and legal secretaries (35%).
- Twenty-nine percent identified bankruptcy and foreclosure as the area of law that will experience the most growth, followed by litigation (23%) and labor and employment (12%).
- Fifty-one percent said it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals, up two points from the previous quarter.
- Seventy-three percent are somewhat or very confident in their companies’ prospects for growth in the first quarter, representing a nine-point decline from the fourth quarter of 2011.
Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal reports that:
“Law firms and corporate legal departments place a premium on candidates with proven skills and relevant experience who can fill gaps in expertise and make immediate contributions. Experienced lawyers continue to have a hiring edge, while employers also value seasoned paralegals and legal secretaries.”
With respect to law departments, the survey reports that general counsel are hiring full-time legal staff and project professionals to handle more work in-house in an effort to reduce outside legal spend, a trend that has been widely discussed and that we reported on last November.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal and was conducted by an independent research firm based on telephone interviews. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.
Posted by Marianne Purzycki