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April 3, 2009 11:03 AM

Job Losses in Legal Sector Continue

Posted by Nate Raymond

More than one-third of the legal services jobs created since the 2001 recession have vanished in the current downturn, an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the legal services sector has lost an estimated 24,900 jobs. Those losses continued through March of this year, with legal services employers shedding another 2,700 jobs, according to the latest BLS report released Friday. (Download The Employment Situation: March 2009)

The 24,900 jobs lost in this recession contrasts with the 72,800 created between November 2001, when the previous economic downturn ended, and November 2007. That means 34.2 percent of the jobs law firms and other legal services providers created since the dot-com bust have disappeared thanks to the current financial crisis.

Looked at another way, the last time this few people were employed in the legal sector was before October 2003.

And with layoffs at large law firms continuing into April, expectations are that those losses aren't about to stop. On Thursday, Mayer Brown laid off 135 people and Hogan & Hartson cut 93 staffers.

Dozens of firms across the country laid off lawyers and staff members last month. In Connecticut, Robinson & Cole cut 30 jobs last week, while in California, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips eliminated 30 lawyers and staffers. And after months of quiet, layoffs finally hit Texas, where Baker Botts, Winstead, and others laid off lawyers and staff.

Firms that conducted large layoffs in March included Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which laid off 300 people; Reed Smith, which cut 100 jobs; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which eliminated 99 positions; and Dechert, which laid off 125 people.


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