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MENLO PARK, Calif., June 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Increased hiring is anticipated for the legal field in the third quarter of 2011, new research indicates. More than one-third (35 percent) of lawyers interviewed for the Robert Half Legal Hiring Index (http://legal.rhi.mediaroom.com/legalhiringindex) plan to add legal staff in the next three months, while 5 percent plan reductions in personnel. The net 30 percent projected increase in hiring activity is up 1 point from the second-quarter forecast. Much of the hiring is expected to take place at law firms.
Business optimism also is improving. The overwhelming majority (84 percent) of lawyers polled are at least somewhat confident in their organizations' ability to expand in the third quarter, up 3 points from the previous quarter. Bankruptcy/foreclosure is the area of law predicted to see the most growth in the coming months.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.
- The net 30 percent increase in anticipated legal hiring is up 1 point from a net 29 percent increase projected last quarter.
- Eighty-four percent of lawyers are confident in their companies' prospects for growth in the next three months, a three-point increase from last quarter.
- Bankruptcy/foreclosure, litigation and general business/commercial law are the areas of law anticipated to see the most growth in the third quarter of 2011.
- Lawyers, legal secretaries and paralegals are the top three positions in demand.
"Law firms are seeing renewed demand for their services, particularly in the areas of bankruptcy and foreclosure, litigation and business law," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "As market conditions improve, firms are recruiting senior- and partner-level lawyers with the client portfolios and in-demand practice area expertise they need to explore new opportunities and generate revenue."
Nineteen percent of lawyers identified bankruptcy/foreclosure as the area of law that will experience the most growth in the next three months. Litigation received 17 percent of the survey response, followed by general business/commercial law (16 percent).
"Hiring within corporations also remains active as legal departments expand their internal teams to address rising workloads," Volkert said. "General counsel are using a mix of project and full-time professionals to handle more matters in-house, such as labor and employment, regulatory and compliance, contracts, and lease review, while controlling their spending on outside law firms."
Positions in Demand
While the job market remains competitive, 51 percent of lawyers report difficulty recruiting skilled legal professionals. When asked what type of positions will be added in the third quarter, respondents indicated they most likely will hire lawyers (93 percent), followed by legal secretaries/assistants (32 percent), paralegals (20 percent), law clerks (19 percent) and legal administrators (12 percent). "Law firms are rebuilding their support teams, and they are hiring experienced legal assistants and paralegals who are able to add immediate value and perform multiple job functions," Volkert said. The most marketable support professionals have backgrounds in litigation and e-discovery, as well as experience in document management, he noted.
About The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index
The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index is based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers: 100 of the respondents are employed at firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees.
The interviews were conducted by an independent research firm. Information from the study is featured in The Robert Half Professional Employment Report, launched last year and the first study of its kind to monitor the hiring environment for professional-level positions exclusively. Based on more than 4,000 telephone interviews with executives throughout the United States, it provides insight on employment trends to help businesses and job seekers prepare for the upcoming quarter. To see how hiring within the legal profession has changed since last quarter and how it compares to other sectors, please visit www.roberthalf.us/per.
About Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half International. The company provides law firms and corporate legal departments with highly skilled professionals, including lawyers, paralegals and legal support personnel, on a project and full-time basis. Robert Half Legal offers online job search services at www.roberthalflegal.com.
SOURCE Robert Half Legal