Sunday, August 18, 2013

Study: Slack Large-Firm Hiring is Everybody's Headache

Study: Slack Large-Firm Hiring is Everybody's Headache
by Karen Sloan/National Law Journal
"The entry-level law job market isn’t going to rebound anytime soon, and larger law firms’ newly stingy hiring practices are largely to blame. That’s the gist of a draft paper by University of North Carolina law professor Bernard Burk. He analyzed lawyer-hiring trends over the past 30 years in an attempt to put the current employment picture into context and help gauge whether the law job market is likely to recover in the near future. Firms of 100 or more attorneys have seen the biggest contraction in entry-level hiring, which in turn has created a greater scramble for jobs at smaller firms and in other sectors, according to the paper, “What’s New About the New Normal: The Evolving Market For New Lawyers In The 21st Century.”"
But the largest single driver of the recent decline in law jobs has been large firms reducing the size of their associate classes.

“Over half of all the full-time, long-term Bar Passage Required jobs that were lost between the class of 2007 and the class of 2011 were lost out of BigLaw alone, even though in 2007 BigLaw hired less than one-fifth of the graduating class,” the article reads. “Thus simply as a matter of volume, many of the recent contractions in the entry-level Law Jobs market are focused far more in larger private law firms than in any other sector of the legal employment market.”

In comparing entry-level hiring patterns since 2008 with those in earlier periods, a significant development emerges: While other sectors of the market for new lawyers have changed only modestly during the Great Recession, one sector — the larger private law firms colloquially known as “BigLaw” — has contracted six times as much as all the others. Though BigLaw hiring has historically accounted for only 10%-20% of each graduating class, it is responsible for over half the entry-level Law Jobs lost since 2008.

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