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Legal services jobs see slow growth, demand drops

Separate reports indicate the sector is struggling

According to the October jobs report, legal services jobs are up—but barely.

The legal services sector grew by 600 jobs last month, the Department of Labor reported on Friday. Legal services account for more than 1 million jobs overall, but the sector has yet to see any big increases this year. Since October 2011, legal services has grown by 6,600 jobs, the report indicates. The country’s overall unemployment rate stands at 7.9 percent.

According to a separate report by the Peer Monitor Index, a Thomson Reuters product, demand for legal services in the U.S. has declined for the second straight quarter. The index analyzes factors affecting law firm profitability and measures changes. The report said law firm billable hours dropped 0.8 percent in the third quarter. Last quarter, it had dropped 0.2 percent.

According to Peer Monitor, all practice areas saw a drop in demand except labor and employment, which experienced a 2.5 percent uptick. Additionally, firms’ direct and overhead expenses increased by 3.5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

"Such an extended period of essentially zero or negligible growth is worrisome as law firms both struggle to maintain their equilibrium in the short-term, and try to plan for the road ahead," Peer Monitor said in a release.

For more InsideCounsel stories about law firms and the legal services sector, see:

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Cathleen Flahardy

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