infographic Robert Half Legal job picture 2014 cropped

Another in a series of annual legal profession predictions wagers that most law firms will maintain their staff levels going forward. More surprising, more than a quarter of law firm leaders surveyed expect to increase lawyer positions.

Those are a few of the results from Robert Half Legal, released in December.

Below, I’ve included more of their findings. Read them and tell me: Do those results jive with your own experiences and expectations?

Here’s the opening of their press release:

An infographic depicting these survey results, also available at http://legal.rhi.mediaroom.com/file.php/1508/RHL_1213_GRAPH_Job_Opportunities_2014_US.jpg

An infographic depicting these survey results, also available at http://legal.rhi.mediaroom.com/file.php/1508/RHL_1213_GRAPH_Job_Opportunities_2014_US.jpg

What’s on the docket for the legal profession in the months ahead? Hiring seems to be on the minds of many, a new survey from Robert Half Legal indicates. Twenty-seven percent of lawyers interviewed said their law firm or company plans to expand or add new positions in the next six months. Fifty-five percent said their organizations expect to maintain current staff levels by filling vacant posts, while 12 percent of survey respondents said they will not fill vacant positions or create new ones and two percent anticipate staff reductions.

Litigation is expected to drive much of the hiring, the research shows. Nearly half (46 percent) of lawyers surveyed expect litigation to generate the greatest number of legal job opportunities from January through June of 2014. Within the litigation practice area, insurance defense was cited by 46 percent of lawyers as the leading driver of job growth, followed by commercial litigation (37 percent) and employment law (28 percent).

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a 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 200 telephone interviews with lawyers in the United States: 100 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.

Lawyers were asked, “Which one of the following practice areas, in your opinion, will offer the greatest number of job opportunities in the first six months of 2014?” Their responses:

  • Litigation: 46%
  • General business/commercial law: 10%
  • Intellectual property: 6%
  • Real estate: 4%
  • Family law: 4%
  • Privacy, data security, information law: 3%
  • Regulatory/compliance: 2%
  • Insurance: 2%
  • Other: 12%
  • None/don’t know/no answer: 11%

Lawyers who cited “litigation” as a response also were asked, “Which of the following areas of litigation, if any, will offer the greatest job opportunities in the first half of 2014? Their responses:* 

  • Insurance defense: 46%
  • Commercial litigation: 37%
  • Employment: 28%
  • Personal injury: 9%
  • Personal/family law: 5%
  • Class actions: 3%
  • Securities/corporate governance: 3%
  • Intellectual property: 1%
  • Other: 3%
  • Don’t know/no answer: 1%

*Multiple responses were permitted.

More information on the survey results is available here.

What's coming in the legal profession? We'd all like to know.

What’s coming in the legal profession? We’d all like to know.

Earlier this month, I said I would highlight a few industry predictions for 2014 from pros in various segments. Today, consider the insights of Dave Canfield, of UnitedLex.

Describing itself as a “global provider of legal and data solutions,” the company put together a list of some of the major trends that are currently influencing the legal industry.

Those trends include the following areas:

  • Legal outsourcing
  • Law firm innovation and the cloud
  • Law school innovation and consolidation
  • General counsel priorities and return on investment

Dave’s article is here. It’s worth reading and saving. And you can reach him directly at dave.canfield@unitedlex.com.

One other topic examined previously by the firm but unmentioned in this article is that of cybersecurity and the legal industry. Among the challenges will be internal and external attacks on law firm networks, and managing the increased desire for staff to participate in the BYOD (“bring your own device”) movement.

The legal industry is facing a landscape that is unlike any it’s confronted in a generation. How has your law office been affected by the altered economy? Have any new practices areas saved your bacon? Have new technologies or methods provided increased profitability in unexpected ways?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. We may help tell your story in Arizona Attorney.