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As the United States slowly crawls out of the recessionary abyss, firms across the country continue to lay off attorneys at all levels and cut back on new hires. Firms are disbanding as a result of major clients that hit the wall. The sky is either falling or cracking severely in most markets.

Attorneys are uniquely ill-equipped to respond to bad job markets. Most joined firms directly from law school and entered a structured, cloistered work environment. Associates work long hours toiling on tasks dropped in their laps and try to decipher internal firm politics. Client skills develop slowly, and external economic forces are typically not on associates’ personal radar. At the larger firms, expensive lifestyles take hold and are actually encouraged. The golden handcuffs syndrome can be treacherous when the economy turns south.

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