Legal Hiring Expected to Grow in 2011

Legal hiring is expected to remain strong through the first quarter of 2011, according to the latest Robert Half Legal Hiring Index. The index, which consists of 200 telephone interviews of employees at both small and large firms found that 31 percent of lawyers plan to hire full-time staff in the next three months.

“Improved business conditions have prompted many law firms and corporate legal departments to hire for critical positions to manage rising workloads and achieve greater efficiencies,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Organizations that cut staff levels too deeply during the downturn are now rebuilding their legal teams and seeking candidates specializing in the most active practice areas.”

Among the jobs that will be added, it is projected that nearly 30 percent will be in the bankruptcy and foreclosure area of law, while 17 percent of hiring is projected to be done in litigation. Respondents noted that they are most likely to hire full-time lawyers, and 46 percent of respondents said they will be hiring paralegals.

While organizations seems to be optimistic about their growth, 52 percent reported that it is difficult to find skilled legal professionals.

“Employers are increasingly selective, hiring job applicants who possess expertise in specific practice areas,” Volkert said. “Often, firms are under pressure to immediately fill a role, and it can be challenging to swiftly identify the strongest candidate.