sky-is-falling.jpgWe received roughly 1,527 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on whether you’re busy, which is up from the roughly 1,350 responses we received in June.

Overall, things are looking slower than they did in December or June, with 32% of associates afraid that they won’t make their hours this year, in contrast to 28% of associates in June and 18% in December. Worse yet, 3% of respondents said that they had already been laid off, an answer that wasn’t available in the earlier surveys.

Meanwhile, the number of respondents who still think their firms actually need to hire more people has dropped precipitously, from 25% in June to only 15% today.

Is business slow? December 2007 vs. June 2008 vs. September 2008

December 2007   June 2008   September 2008
Yes, I’ve been laid off. n/a n/a 3%
Yes. I won’t make my hours. 18% 28% 32%
Yes, but I’ll make my hours. 15% 12% 16%
It’s slow for others, but not me. 16% 14% 11%
No. 25% 21% 23%
No. We need more people. 26% 25% 15%

Find out what’s hot and what’s not, after the jump.


time billing code for not doing shit.jpgAs we found last year and last quarter, real estate and structured finance attorneys are still very slow, with roughly 70% saying that they won’t make their hours this year, and a fair number reporting that they have already been laid off. The sluggishness has also been worsening for corporate and securities work in general, with almost 50% of these attorneys saying they won’t make their hours (up from 43% in June, and more than twice the number reported last December). Even tax attorneys are sliding, with roughly 36% afraid they won’t make their hours, up from 22% in June.

On the bright side, however, bankruptcy is still going strong, with 47% of respondents in that field saying their firms should hire more people. Geek is also chic, with almost a third of patent associates calling for more bodies. And T&E is still attractive, with almost a third of trusts & estates associates saying their firms should hire more people.

Breakdown by Practice: Is Business Slow?

Yes, I’ve been laid off. Yes, I won’t make my hours. Yes, but I’ll make my hours. It’s slow for others at the firm, but not me. No, I’m doing fine. No! We need to hire people!
Bankruptcy 4% 4% 16% 31% 47%
Corporate 3% 48% 21% 8% 15% 7%
Employee Benefits / Executive Comp 4% 29% 4% 20% 24% 20%
Energy 24% 29% 8% 20% 20%
Investment Management 5% 10% 30% 25% 25% 5%
Labor & Employment 2% 24% 8% 12% 38% 18%
Litigation 2% 18% 14% 14% 33% 22%
M & A 6% 40% 24% 5% 20% 6%
Patent 2% 16% 11% 16% 28% 31%
Real Estate 9% 69% 13% 3% 7% 2%
Securities 49% 24% 13% 9% 7%
Structured Finance 6% 69% 9% 9% 8% 2%
Tax 4% 36% 23% 9% 18% 13%
Trademark 30% 10% 50% 10%
Trusts & Estates 24% 16% 31% 31%

The Charlotte market is still in particularly rough shape, with 47% of respondents there saying they won’t make their hours, and 4% reporting layoffs. But now Houston, LA and Miami have broken the 40% mark as well (although some of Houston’s slowdown may be Ike-related).

Dallas, however, remains robust, with only 14% of respondents afraid they won’t make their hours, but almost 30% of respondents calling for more colleagues.

Breakdown by Market: Is Business Slow?

Yes, I’ve been laid off. Yes, I won’t make my hours. Yes, but I’ll make my hours. It’s slow for others at the firm, but not me. No, I’m doing fine. No! We need to hire people!
Atlanta 2% 30% 20% 19% 20% 12%
Bay Area 3% 29% 18% 14% 29% 10%
Boston 2% 27% 23% 15% 23% 12%
Charlotte 4% 47% 20% 14% 17%
Chicago 5% 29% 21% 12% 24% 11%
Dallas 6% 14% 14% 10% 31% 29%
Denver 25% 17% 17% 34% 9%
Houston 4% 44% 14% 10% 10% 20%
Los Angeles 1% 44% 9% 9% 28% 13%
Miami 45% 12% 34% 12%
New York 4% 36% 15% 11% 23% 15%
Philadelphia 33% 18% 13% 23% 15%
San Diego 3% 30% 27% 9% 24% 9%
Seattle 9% 25% 42% 25%
Washington, D.C. 1% 24% 17% 13% 29% 20%

The slowdown is affecting lawyers of all vintages.

Breakdown by Seniority: Is Business Slow?

Yes, I’ve been laid off. Yes, I won’t make my hours. Yes, but I’ll make my hours. It’s slow for others at the firm, but not me. No, I’m doing fine. No! We need to hire people!
Before 2000 3% 41% 12% 12% 18% 16%
2000 3% 35% 32% 12% 3% 18%
2001 11% 34% 13% 9% 23% 13%
2002 3% 36% 16% 10% 25% 13%
2003 3% 27% 16% 12% 29% 17%
2004 3% 27% 19% 12% 26% 15%
2005 4% 31% 16% 13% 19% 20%
2006 3% 36% 18% 11% 22% 13%
2007 2% 32% 15% 12% 27% 15%
2008 1% 28% 11% 11% 37% 15%

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.


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