MENLO PARK, Calif., March 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than one-quarter (26 percent) of lawyers interviewed for the quarterly Robert Half Legal Hiring Index plans to hire full-time legal staff during the second quarter of 2012, while 4 percent anticipate staff reductions. The net 22 percent increase in hiring activity compares with a net hiring increase of 27 percent forecast in the first quarter of this year. Fifty-seven percent of attorneys polled expect no change in staff levels in the next three months. More than half (59 percent) of lawyers said it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals, up eight points from the previous quarter. Hiring activity is expected to take place predominantly at law firms, and bankruptcy/foreclosure is the practice area predicted to see the most growth in the coming months.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a premier 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 telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.
- The net 22 percent of lawyers expecting to hire is down five points from a 27 percent net increase in hiring activity projected last quarter. Lawyers interviewed plan to add an average of two full-time positions.
- The three most in-demand positions are lawyers (85 percent), paralegals (39 percent) and legal secretaries (24 percent).
- The practice areas expected to see the most growth in the second quarter are bankruptcy/foreclosure, litigation and general business/commercial law.
- Fifty-nine percent of lawyers said it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals, up eight points from the previous quarter.
- Sixty-eight percent of lawyers are somewhat or very confident in their companies' prospects for growth in the next three months, down five points from last quarter.
"Hiring is expected to remain active as law firms see renewed demand for their services," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "As the number of bankruptcies, foreclosures and lawsuit filings continues to increase, the need for legal counsel in these areas should remain strong. Law firms are recruiting experienced candidates to expand lucrative practice groups and pursue new business opportunities."
Twenty-two percent of lawyers identified bankruptcy/foreclosure as the area of law that will experience the most growth in the next three months. Litigation came in a close second, receiving 21 percent of the response, followed by general business/commercial law (18 percent).
Volkert noted that renewed business activity and ongoing regulatory requirements are creating demand for experienced in-house counsel. "General counsel are hiring associates to not only handle legal and regulatory matters, but also to support the organization's objectives by identifying business opportunities that don't pose significant risks."
"To manage rising caseloads and supplement the work of full-time employees, many law firms and corporate legal departments are bringing in legal professionals on a project basis who possess expertise in key areas," Volkert said. "Experienced, tech-savvy paralegals who can take on increased responsibilities, such as assisting with document management and discovery-related projects, are highly marketable."
About The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index
The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index is based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers: 100 of the respondents are employed at firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees.
The interviews were conducted by an independent research firm. Information from the study is featured in the Robert Half Professional Employment Report, launched in 2010 and the first study of its kind to monitor the hiring environment for professional-level positions exclusively. Based on more than 4,000 telephone interviews with executives throughout the United States, it provides insight on employment trends to help businesses and job seekers prepare for the upcoming quarter. To see how hiring within the legal profession has changed since last quarter and how it compares to other sectors, please visit www.roberthalf.us/per.
About Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half International. 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. Robert Half Legal offers online job search services at www.roberthalflegal.com.
SOURCE Robert Half Legal