Is the legal job market finally picking up?

By Hillary Mantis

I’m a career counselor, not an economist, but I’m hopeful about signs that the job market is finally picking up. Will this year be the year that things finally turn around?

In my own work counseling law students, lawyers, and pre-law students, I’ve noticed that job seekers are starting to get offers more quickly. People that I’ve known who have been struggling for months have finally landed a job.  And I’ve seen some recent law graduates get nice job offers, both in legal and legal-related positions, such as compliance.

The legal news seems to, at least in part, substantiate what I’ve been seeing. BigLaw announced nice bonus packages towards the end of 2014. This is a good sign. Traditionally, as BigLaw goes, so goes the rest of the legal industry. Hopefully, this is an indication that they may increase salaries in the near future.

A recent CareerBuilder survey indicates that 36 percent of employers are planning to increase their full-time staff in 2015, up from 2014. And U.S. law firms are predicted to see a year of profit growth in 2015, primarily due to an uptick in transactional work, according to a recent report by Citi private Bank and Hildebrandt Consulting LLC.

Retiring baby boomers are reportedly creating room for new lawyers to enter the market as well. As we get further into the baby boom retirement years, hopefully that will create some new jobs. As many law schools freeze or even reduce law school tuition, and offer shorter J.D. programs, future lawyers can perhaps anticipate smaller loan payments due to lower tuition costs.

Students often ask me how long it will take them to get a job offer. I tell them it’s very hard to predict. It depends on many variables, including the strength of the job market.

Hopefully this will be the year when it gets just a little bit easier for them.

Hillary Mantis consults with law students, lawyers and pre-law students. She is a Director of the Pre-Law program at Fordham University and the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. For more information, you can write to Hillary at