Even as the economy recovers, law departments are still under pressure to do more with less

Adding headcount not the first order of business for most law departments

As the U.S.economy gradually emerges from recession, the legal job market has been slowly but steadily improving. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal services sector added a modest 6,300 jobs in the past year, consistent with the gradual recovery in other professional services sectors.

But while the hiring freezes in place in many departments are thawing out, companies aren’t rushing to add headcount. Rather, they are taking a cautious approach. Some are turning to contract and temporary hires to handle workloads while avoiding the risk of taking on full-time staff. Others are looking to paralegals and support staff to handle work at a lower price point. And all departments are still searching for ways to use their existing staff more efficiently. Nonetheless, legal placement experts see some cause for optimism in the coming year and think that in-house hiring will steadily grow.

Adele Nicholas

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