Employment In The Legal Profession
Report 1: National Employment - 2010

How has the recession impacted legal employment?

The total number of workers employed in legal occupations increased every year during the recession.

Recession and Employment 2007-2010

In 2007, the number employed in legal occupations hit its peak up to that point in the decade. The number of employed lawyers had also peaked, having just seen a 3.7% increase from 2006, the largest single-year % increase of the decade. Then came the recession, which had this effect on legal jobs:

Table 5

The recession has affected all occupational segments of the economy, including all legal occupations and lawyers. However, during the recession and recovery, the number of jobs in legal occupations increased in all fields except paralegals and legal assistants, which declined less than 1%. Despite the recession, since 2007 the number of employed lawyers has increased by 3.9%, an average of 1.3% per year.

Recession and Unemployment 2007-2010 (See Charts 2 & 4)

The recession had this effect on unemployment:

Table 6

While the total number employed increased during the past three years, so did the number unemployed. However, unemployment for legal occupations decreased from 2009 to 2010, while the overall national unemployment rate increased from 9.3% to 9.6%. From 2009 to 2010 the number of unemployed workers in all legal occupations fell from 60,000 to 48,000 or 20.0%. The number of unemployed lawyers fell from 24,000 in 2009 to 16,000 in 2010, a 33.3% decline. The number of unemployed miscellaneous legal support workers fell by 4,000 from 2009 to 2010 (21.1%), while the number of unemployed judges and magistrates remained the same. From 2009 to 2010, the only legal occupation that increased its number of unemployed was paralegals and legal assistants, which increased 1,000.


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Employment Levels 2001-2010
CHART 2: Number of U.S. Lawyers with Unemployment Rate 2001-2010


Chart 3 Recession and Unemployment 2007-2010
CHART 4: Number Unemployed in Legal Occupations 2001-2010






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