The bright spots in today's job market

There are a few small bright spots in a still somewhat dismal job market for lawyers, according to NALP Executive Director James Leipold. Technology, healthcare, and regulatory work are some practice areas showing signs of recent growth, Leipold commented recently at the Northeast Association for Pre-Law Advisors. While the entry-level market is still tough, the lateral market seems to be picking up steam, according to Leipold. California and New York have shown signs of bouncing back first in the lateral market.

Small firms of 2 to 10 attorneys showed some growth in hiring, Leipold said, in the NALP Class of 2010 Employment Report issued this month. Jobs with firms this size represented 39.1 percent of all private practice jobs taken by members of the Class of 2010, up 7.5 percent from the Class of 2008, according to the NALP Report.

In other good news, at least more of the associates starting at the large firms seem to be resuming normal start dates instead of being deferred, according to the NALP Report.

"To the extent that there is a bright spot in the employment profile for this class it is that there were fewer graduates who had their start dates deferred," Leipold said.

This does not seem to be an indicator that large law firm hiring of recent grads is exactly booming.

"The percentage of private practice jobs with large law firms of 501 attorneys or more fell more than five percentage points in a single year to 20.5 percent for the Class of 2010, compared to 25.6 percent for the Class of 2009."

Despite the bright spots, it looks like there is still a long way to go until things really get better.

"We can expect that the overall employment rate for new graduates will continue to be stagnant or decline further for the Class of 2011, with the curve probably not trending upward before the employment statistics become available for the Class of 2012," Leipold concluded in the NALP Report.

Hillary can be reached at:

By Hilary Mantis