Associate Hiring to Increase Soon, Law Firm Leaders Say

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 18, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Law firm leaders expect more rain in the making for the rest of the year, according to a new survey.

Citi Private Bank announced the results from a poll of 157 law firms, largely from the top 200 law firms in the nation. They forecast more opportunities for new associates, also.

But optimism was statistically guarded, as only 51 percent of the respondents expressed confidence that the rest of the year will be considerably better. Other reports suggest the future is partly cloudy.

Partly Cloudy

While the law firms project more demand and revenue growth, those projections "may prove to be a bullish outlook for an industry that has been dogged by stagnant demand, particularly among Am Law Second Hundred firms," the ABA Journal reported.

The highest ranking on Citi's "confidence index" was for associate growth. Sixty-eight percent of the leaders said they expect to hire more associates, with nearly 20% anticipating about 3% more hires this year.

Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing and consultancy firm, released a report on law jobs earlier this year. The 2017 Legal Salary Guide projected associates will see salaries rise more than six percent.

However, the report said litigation support specialists will see almost 9% more in annual pay, as much as $141,500 for managers with more than 10 years' experience.

Jobs in Demand

The Half report shows that legal support jobs are more in demand than lawyer jobs across the nation. Paralegals, legal assistants, and contract administrators will have five times more job opportunities than lawyers, according to the report.

The surveys reflect recent trends, as legal tech and outsourced legal services have steadily increased. At the same time, attorney salaries have started to climb upward after a steep decline in demand that even impacted law school enrollments.

Last year, BigLaw pushed new associates pay to $180,000. This year, however, some reports see not-so-fair weather ahead.

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