MENLO PARK, Calif., Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- One in four (25 percent) lawyers interviewed for the quarterly Robert Half Legal Hiring Index plans to add legal staff in the next three months, while just 1 percent plan reductions in personnel. The net 24 percent increase in hiring activity is down six points from the previous quarter's forecast but remains above the average for all occupations surveyed by Robert Half for its Professional Employment Report. Much of the hiring is expected at law firms.
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 24 percent of lawyers expecting to hire is down six points from a net 30 percent increase projected last quarter. However, it is well above the net seven percent anticipated hiring increase for all fields included in the Professional Employment Report.
- Nearly half (49 percent) of lawyers said it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals.
- Eighty-two percent of lawyers are confident in their companies' prospects for growth in the next three months, down 2 points from the third quarter of 2011.
- Litigation, bankruptcy and foreclosure, and labor and employment law are the practice areas expected to see the most growth in the fourth quarter.
- Lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries are the top three positions in demand.
"Given prevailing economic uncertainties, law firms are taking a strategic approach to hiring," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "They are selectively recruiting senior-level associates who will help them enhance service offerings in high-demand specialties such as litigation, bankruptcy and foreclosure, and commercial transactions."
Twenty percent of lawyers identified litigation as the area of law that will experience the most growth in the next three months. Bankruptcy and foreclosure law received 18 percent of the response, followed by labor and employment law (14 percent).
"General counsel are expanding their internal teams and bringing on both full-time staff and project professionals to manage more work in-house," said Volkert. "This enables legal departments to reduce their spending on outside counsel and add needed expertise that will support the company's business endeavors."
Law firms and corporate legal departments expect to hire an average of two full-time positions in the fourth quarter, according to survey respondents. Those interviewed indicated they will most likely hire lawyers (96 percent), paralegals (28 percent) and legal secretaries (22 percent). "As firms continue to build their teams, the most marketable associates will be those with in-demand practice-area expertise, a substantial client portfolio, and the ability to identify and pursue new business opportunities," Volkert added.
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 last year 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