Legal Employment Flat in 2017: Report

Employment in the U.S. legal industry remained flat in August, compared to both the previous month and the beginning of the year.

That’s according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, which reported that the total number of people employed at law offices surveyed nationwide stood at 1,126,300, up 100 jobs from July.

The figures are preliminary and the Bureau of Labor regularly amends its data to reflect its most accurate tally. The jobs tracked include anyone on the payroll of law offices, including associates, paralegals and staff.

In January, there were about 500 fewer jobs in the U.S. legal industry as the Bureau counted 1,125,800 people employed in surveyed law offices, according to the data.

While overall legal employment has changed little this year, large law firms and the law schools they recruit from have reported a solid demand for new associates, according to previous reporting on Big Law Business.

Leaders at Kirkland & Ellis said earlier this month that they planned to bring onboard about 245 law students across the U.S. for its 2018 summer associate class — a 50 percent increase from its 2016 summer class.

Meanwhile, jobs in the legal profession are changing as graduates take more positions that don’t necessarily require a J.D. — in technology, business operations and consulting, law deans told Big Law Business in July.

The Bureau of Labor offers a snapshot of historical data of legal employment, which we’ve embedded below. Even though progress in 2017 is tepid, the employment situation has mended since the doldrums of 2010, when firms had scaled back following the financial crisis.

By comparison, in August 2010, there were 12,300 fewer jobs in the legal market.

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