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There’s good news and bad news in the recent uptick of lawyer hiring in Connecticut. It’s good news for experienced associates making lateral transfers. It’s bad news for law school students trying to line up post-graduation employment. “The market has definitely picked up,” confirmed Mark Davies, managing director of Kelly Law Registry’s Hartford office. But “It’s still a rough market for people coming out of law school without experience. There are a lot of law students in this state who don’t have work.” The hiring market began to turn around in the last six to eight months, Davies said. “In the downturn years, 2000-2002, it was very rare to see law firms asking for corporate associates as opposed to litigators. We’re beginning to see life in that area.” Howd & Ludorf in Hartford is among those back in the hiring market. It’s seeking two new litigation attorneys with at least one to four years of experience. “We’re expanding to accommodate our work,” said partner John Bogdanski, whose firm specializes in insurance, product liability, employment, workers’ compensation, toxic tort and municipal law. “The business relationships we’ve developed are coming to fruition,” he said. The 24-attorney firm has been gradually growing over the last few years, Bogdanski added. “I see that trend continuing in the future.” BUSINESS GAINS Mitchell Kallet, who runs the Hartford outpost of the Los Angeles-based aviation law boutique Kern & Wooley, said his office is hiring a litigation associate with four to five years experience as part its expansion in Connecticut. Currently, two attorneys staff the Hartford office. “Ultimately we’ll be up to four,” he said. “We have enough business to do it.” Another firm with growing hiring needs is Stamford-based Cummings & Lockwood. The upheaval at the firm over the last two years is well known by now. Many of its top-producing corporate law partners left for competing outfits, including the expanded Connecticut operations of Edwards & Angell and McCarter & English. What’s left, however, is an extremely strong trusts and estates practice, and that’s mainly where the firm is hiring, according to Peter Giuliani, C&L’s executive director. “These are growth positions,” he said. The firm plans to hire experienced T&E associates in Greenwich and New Haven. “We certainly need some more help in the trusts and estates area,” Giuliani said. A litigation vacancy, he added, also exists in the firm’s Stamford office. “I think there is a pickup in activity,” Giuliani agreed. But, he added, that doesn’t mean the legal industry is returning to the hiring excesses of the dot-com boom. “I don’t think we’ll see the craziness we were seeing in the late ’90s,” he said. C&L does plan to hire one or two new attorneys from its summer class, but they won’t be greeted with higher salaries. “I don’t see any pressure on increasing starting salaries,” said Giuliani, whose firm has a first-year base salary of $100,000 in Fairfield County. “We may even ignore the market for starting salaries because we’re a different firm now. We obviously have many fewer associates than we did in the past, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities now.” At its peak C&L had 170 attorneys. It currently has 85. While firms such as Cummings & Lockwood are making a renewed push for legal help, Kelly Law Registry’s Davies said, for him, it’s the increasing demand for temporary attorneys that’s the real sign the hiring market is on a rebound. “That’s usually the first thing that picks up,” said Davies. Legal employers not fully confident in the sustainability of a permanent position use temporary hires to inch their way back into the market. And right now, “The need for temporary attorneys is widespread,” Davies said.

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