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February 6, 2009 11:05 AM

Recession Report: Legal Sector Lost 1,300 Jobs in January

Posted by Nate Raymond

The legal service sector continued to slash payrolls in January with a loss of 1,300 jobs throughout the industry, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released Friday.

The job losses in the legal sector were just a fraction of the 598,000 jobs shed throughout the United States last month as the national unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent.

Since the current recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost 3.6 million jobs, about half of them in the last three months. The legal sector alone has shed 14,500 during that period, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show.

As grimly reported by The Am Law Daily, layoff announcements were rampant at law firms across the country in January. Morrison & Foerster cut 201 jobs, Cooley Godward Kronish axed 114, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld shed 65.

Other firms to announce job cuts last month included Blank Rome, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Foley Hoag, Fish & Richardson, and McDermott Will & Emery. Recruiters on both the East and West coasts report that associate hiring at law firms has largely stopped, and firms are now mostly targeting partners with portable books of business.

The statistics are seasonally adjusted. When not adjusted, the Labor Department reports 3,100 legal service jobs were cut in January.

The last time so few people were employed in legal services was in March 2004.

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