The U.S. legal services industry lost 1,400 jobs in January, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The monthly jobs report estimates that 1,122,800 people worked in the legal sector in January, though that figure could be adjusted. The agency revised December’s figures downward to reflect 1,124,200 legal industry jobs for the last month of the year, rather than the 1,128,000 initially reported.
Despite the January decline, legal sector employment remains stronger than it was at this time last year, when 7,600 fewer people were employed. The industry saw employment rise in fits and starts throughout 2015, the data shows.
Industry observers and consultants have reported that demand for legal services is stagnant. As a result, law firms are competing vigorously for market share.
Reed Smith, a behemoth with 1,750 lawyers and 27 offices, laid off 45 lawyers and some other staff in January. The firm’s managing partner, Sandy Thomas, said in a statement to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer that the firm was responding to changes in the demand for legal services.
Overall nonfarm U.S. employment rose by 151,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department, with the unemployment rate standing at 4.9 percent. The biggest job gains occurred in the retail, food services, health care and manufacturing industries.