The number of first-year associate jobs at law firms across the U.S. and Canada is set to rise slightly over the next 12 months, a new survey has found.
More than a fifth of the 175 lawyers interviewed for the report, which was produced by legal staffing agency Robert Half Legal, said that their firms intend to increase hiring of first-year associates next year.
In a sign of overall confidence across the industry, two-thirds of lawyers said that their firms hiring plans for the next 12 months were unchanged, despite challenging market conditions, while just 7 percent of lawyers said their firm would decrease the number of spaces for first-year associates.
Robert Half executive director Jamy Sullivan said that firms are looking to staff up in high-growth practice areas such as litigation, commercial law and real estate. (Sullivan’s firm released another survey a few weeks ago pointing to higher salaries next year for lawyers employed in a few key practice areas.)
First-year associates at U.S. law firms are paid slightly more on average than their Canadian peers, at $68,000, compared with $62,750 north of the border, the report added.
The results broadly coincide with those of a report released earlier this summer by Citi Private Bank, which found an overall rise in confidence among U.S. law firm leaders and a likelihood of increased associate roles across the market.
Earlier this month, data published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the number of jobs in the U.S. legal sector—figures take into account lawyers, paralegals, secretaries and others employed in the industry—had stalled again in August after several months of growth.