The Talent

July 8, 2011 6:34 PM

June Jobs Report: Legal Industry Continues to Shrink

Posted by Hannah D'Apice

The legal industry shed 2,600 jobs this month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics's June employment report, which the agency released Friday. It was the fourth month this year during which the legal sector saw jobs decline.

The picture wasn't much brighter for the broader economy, which ended three straight months of strong job growth by adding just 18,000 jobs in June, according to the BLS. The nation's unemployment rate, which stood at 9 percent in April and 9.1 percent in May, inched up to 9.2 percent last month, the BLS reports.

The agency also revised its legal industry employment data for April and May on Friday, reporting that the sector lost 700 jobs lost in April in contrast to the 1,500 jobs it was originally estimated to have added during the month. The revised figures also showed that the industry actually added 200 jobs in May, instead of losing 1,000 positions as initially estimated. The change to the May figures halts what would have otherwise been a four-month losing streak for the legal industry.

The industry began the year well, adding 500 jobs in January before dropping 2,000 positions in February and 300 more in March.

The downward trend comes at a time when the number of lawyers across the country continues to expand, according to the ABA’s 2011 National Lawyer Population Survey. The report indicates that only five states--Arkansas, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Utah--experienced drops in their lawyer populations from 2010 to 2011.

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Of course the legal industry is shrinking as does every other industry when technology increases efficiency. Twenty years ago law libraries were stored in large areas with books, now no books or libraries as its all on line. Similarly the efficiency of lawyers has gone up with technology and thereby fewer bodies can perform more work, however, billing prices have not come down yet for lawyers. A big contradiction in what should be expected. David X Feingold

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