The Firms

November 5, 2010 12:59 PM

Legal Services Sector Lost 300 Jobs in October

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Good news for the nation did not translate to good news for the legal sector on the employment front in October.

Though the U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs last month, the legal services field saw 300 disappear, according to the latest employment report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That drop comes after 2,200 legal jobs were created the previous month, and it halts a positive streak of three straight months with employment gains in the field (see job reports for September, August, and July.)

Originally, BLS reported a gain of 2,500 positions in the legal sector last month, but that number has since been adjusted down. Currently, the total number of jobs in the legal sector--just over 1.1 million--equals the number reported at this time last year.

The national outlook was much more optimistic, with a six-figure boost in employment following four straight months of losses. The increase, though, did nothing to chip away at the national unemployment rate, which remained steady at 9.6 percent. Private-sector employment went up by 159,000 jobs in October, with the retail industry adding 28,000 positions and food services creating 24,000 jobs.

The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama, still recovering from the Republican success in this week's midterm elections, called the report "encouraging news." The president also pledged to seek bipartisan solutions to the still-discouraging unemployment rate.


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Certainly over in the UK, things remain tough for the legal profession, and a suspicion remains that many firms remain in a pretty tough financial position, that could see another pressure added if interest rates rise in the New Year. Shedding people is in some cases necessary for survival, but always hard and unlikely to be a long term solution.

One other angle is that dealing with force reductions also eats management time, particularly if the departures are acrimonious .

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