06 July 2009

Mid-Year Big Law Layoff Recap

In the first six months of 2009:

125 major law firms have announced or had confirmed layoffs. The combined total is 10,723 people, 4,015 of which are attorneys and the balance, 6,708, are staff.

From Above The Law.

The numbers are global, although the cuts are predominantly from the American and British firms that dominate the ranks of large law firms globally.

This is considerably better for lawyers than the Great Depression, when something like 40% of the lawyers in the Bronx were on welfare.

But, it is shaping up to be a huge blow to law school graduates unfortunate enough to have graduated in 2009, plus or minus a couple of years. In recent years, about 25% of new law school graduates have started working for big law firms, historically at rich salaries. Now, most large firms are highing fewer new associates, pay is down, and many new hires are finding their start dates deferred by as much as two and a half years.

There are about 800,000 lawyers in the United States, and considerably less than 200,000 of them practice in large law firms. No one is seriously predicting the demise of large law firms or the legal industry, although a business model shakeup in large firms is widely expected.

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