With an estimated 1,125,000 people employed, the legal industry did not add any new jobs in the month of August, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That figure is the same as BLS’ estimate for the month of July, though original estimates had put the July number 1,100 lower—at 1,123,900 jobs.
Despite stalled growth last month, BLS estimates that there were more people employed in the legal industry in July and August than at any other time this year. The preliminary figure for August is also a big improvement over this time last year, when 1,118,900 people worked in the field. (The government often revises its monthly jobs numbers.)
Consolidation within the industry could be keeping job growth fairly subdued. Just this week, Kenyon & Kenyon laid off close to 40 staff and associates, sources told sibling publication the New York Law Journal. The IP boutique is in the process of winding down operations as 55 of its lawyers prepare to join Houston-based Andrews Kurth after many of its partners left for other firms in recent months.
Meanwhile, report after report from industry experts at places such as Citi Private Bank and Wells Fargo Private Bank, show that firms are registering flat demand for legal services. Modest revenue increases at the top firms seem to be the result of rate hikes. A recent pay raise of between 12 and 13 percent for associates issued by most Am Law 200 firms is an added expense that could make those firms increasingly cautious about future hiring.
The stagnant growth in the legal industry mirrored overall employment trends in the U.S., according to data provided by BLS. The national unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent for the third month in a row.