Litigation Expected To Yield Greatest Legal Job Prospects In First Half Of 2014; More Than One-Quarter Of Lawyers Plan To Hire

MENLO PARK, Calif., Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- What's on the docket for the legal profession in the months ahead? Hiring seems to be on the minds of many, a new survey from Robert Half Legal indicates. Twenty-seven percent of lawyers interviewed said their law firm or company plans to expand or add new positions in the next six months. Fifty-five percent said their organizations expect to maintain current staff levels by filling vacant posts, while 12 percent of survey respondents said they will not fill vacant positions or create new ones and two percent anticipate staff reductions.

Litigation is expected to drive much of the hiring, the research shows. Nearly half (46 percent) of lawyers surveyed expect litigation to generate the greatest number of legal job opportunities from January through June of 2014. Within the litigation practice area, insurance defense was cited by 46 percent of lawyers as the leading driver of job growth, followed by commercial litigation (37 percent) and employment law (28 percent).

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers in the United States: 100 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.

Lawyers were asked, "Which one of the following practice areas, in your opinion, will offer the greatest number of job opportunities in the first six months of 2014?" Their responses:

Litigation

46%

General business/commercial law

10%

Intellectual property

6%

Real estate

4%

Family law

4%

Privacy, data security, information law

3%

Regulatory/compliance

2%

Insurance

2%

Other

12%

None/don't know/no answer

11%


100%

Lawyers who cited "litigation" as a response also were asked, "Which of the following areas of litigation, if any, will offer the greatest job opportunities in the first half of 2014?" Their responses:*

Insurance defense

46%

Commercial litigation

37%

Employment

28%

Personal injury

9%

Personal/family law

5%

Class actions

3%

Securities/corporate governance

3%

Intellectual property

1%

Other

3%

Don't know/no answer

1%

*Multiple responses were permitted.

(NOTE: An infographic depicting these survey results is available for download at http://legal.rhi.mediaroom.com/file.php/1508/RHL_1213_GRAPH_Job_Opportunities_2014_US.jpg.)

"Litigation-related activity shows no sign of slowing down in the months ahead," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "As a result, hiring highly skilled litigation experts – from insurance defense paralegals to litigation associates and e-discovery attorneys – will be a top priority for law firms as they focus on expanding services to meet clients' needs and increase revenue."

Volkert added that legal departments also have a steady need for corporate associates and paralegals to help them manage more litigation and e-discovery matters internally. "The most marketable legal professionals have three-to-five years' experience in a high-demand specialty, are tech-savvy and are able to ramp up quickly," said Volkert.

Employers who plan to expand their legal teams may want to reassess their recruiting and retention programs: Six in ten (60 percent) respondents cited at least some challenge in finding skilled legal talent, while one-third (33 percent) of lawyers expressed concern about losing top performers to other legal job opportunities.

Volkert noted that retention becomes a greater priority as firms navigate through an improving economy. "Not only are advanced skill sets and deep industry or organizational knowledge difficult to replace, but the loss of a key team member also has the potential to affect client service levels and future growth plans," said Volkert.

About Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half. The company provides law firms and corporate legal departments with highly skilled professionals, including lawyers, paralegals and legal support personnel, on a project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal also offers managed review and e-discovery services. More information, including online job search services, can be found at www.roberthalflegal.com.

SOURCE Robert Half Legal



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