Legal market is improving—and so is BV hiring

BVWireIssue #109-3
October 19, 2011

Law firm hiring is a good bellwether of how the legal profession is faring—and according to a roundup of recent reports, there are signs that the economic winds are changing. For instance, the annual survey of diversity recruitment among the top 250 law firms by MCCA/Vault shows that minorities and women have made progress this year. “As the legal profession slowly recovers from the recession,” say the surveyors, “recruitment and retention are picking up again.”

Summer associate hiring is also picking back up, says a recent Altman Weil post.  Despite some economists’ prediction of a double-dip recession in 2012, law firms indicate that they are planning to make the same number of job offers for the 2012 graduating class as they did for the 2011 class—and  some may even increase their offers. “ Law firm partners are generally confident of the legal landscape, Altman Weil adds in another post. Its Law Firms in Transition Survey 2011 finds that, overall “economic performance is rebounding, with two thirds of all firms surveyed reporting increases in gross revenue in 2010 and nearly three quarters reporting increases in revenue per lawyer and profits per equity partner.”  Standard hourly billing rates are also up significantly this year, with firms reporting or planning a median 4% increase in 2011 billing rates. 

A similar, positive development in BV hiring. “While we shouldn't expect to return to the pre-recession level of demand, BV hiring is gaining momentum,” observes John Borrowman (Borrowman Baker LLP) in his most recent quarterly newsletter.  Potential recruits might believe the recovering market might increase the potential for their working “remote” for a new firm.  “Read about why not,” Borrowman says, and what “moving for the right opportunity” might really mean, for the new hire as well as the firm.

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