Yesterday, the National Law Journal compiled its annual report on the biggest law firms in all the land. The top line news: Biglaw still isn’t hiring. Not really. The NLJ reports that the 250 largest law firms shed 1,400 lawyers, about 1.1% of total headcount.
Biglaw shed 4% headcount last year. Putting the two years together, it’s the largest employment cutback in the 33 years since the National Law Journal started compiling these statistics.
A guy on Twitter keeps telling me that things “seem” to be getting better. The NLJ would suggest otherwise…
Breaking the numbers down by city, the NLJ finds that Atlanta suffered the most this past year:
Atlanta suffered the deepest loss this year in the number of attorneys working at NLJ 250 firms in major U.S. cities, but other locations defied a downward trend with slight to moderate increases in headcount.
Experiencing a 7.8% decrease, Atlanta lost 252 attorneys, bringing the total number of NLJ 250 lawyers working there to 2,974.
Looks like “Hotlanta” isn’t so hot. Anybody know if CNN is hiring.
Okay, are you in law school and looking for good news because you desperately need to make yourself feel better? Here you go:
Although attorney counts slid for a second year in a row, the story could’ve been worse, said Altman Weil consultant Ward Bower. “We’re finally seeing the bottom of the legal recession,” he said.
Indeed, the decline in attorney totals was much smaller this year than last. NLJ 250 firms employed 126,299 lawyers in 2010, compared with 127,701 in 2009. Put another way, the drop of 1,402 is equal to a firm about the size of Kirkland & Ellis. In 2009, the number of lost attorneys was 5,259 — or roughly four Kirklands.
We’ve reached the bottom? Yay?
You’ll know what will be a good indication about whether the worst of the recession is over? This year’s bonuses. We are waiting to still a real indication of Biglaw’s health. Don’t forget to give us a heads up (email@example.com or 646-820-TIPS).
Vanishing Act: Year II [National Law Journal]
NLJ 250 [National Law Journal]
Atlanta leads a contraction in headcount at NLJ 250 firms [National Law Journal]