Shrinking Schools

Earlier this year, law students were busy suing their schools, but soon there may not be enough scholars to bring their alma maters to court, according to new statistics from the Law School Admission Counsel. The number of law school applicants continued its downward trend this year, dropping to 440,964 students nationwide. Some more key statistics from the report are below:

15.6% Decrease in the number of law school applicants

13.6% Decrease in the number of applications submitted

13.5% Decrease in applications to private schools (public school applications fell by 13.8%)

24.1% Decrease in the number of law school applicants over the past two years

45,000 Number of students expected to graduate law school in each of the next three years


Ebbing Employment

The March jobs report was a disappointment for job-seekers in many industries, and the legal services sector was no exception. After two straight months of growth, the legal industry shed more than 1,000 jobs last month. But the news isn’t all bad: A March 29 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the number of practicing lawyers will grow by 10 percent between 2010 and 2020. More government jobs data is below:

1,300 Number of jobs that the legal services sector cut in March

41,900 Number of jobs shed by the sector in 2009

1,116,400 Total number of U.S. legal jobs recorded by the DOL


Alternative Arrangements

The recession has forced corporate legal departments to get creative when saving money, and driven many to draw up alternative fee arrangements with outside counsel. Though billable hours are far from gone, a recent report by The Wall Street Journal highlighted the growth of flat fees and other alternative fee arrangements (AFA). Here are some significant figures from their report:

13.4% Percentage of firms’ 2012 revenue projected to come from AFAs

11.8% Percentage of revenues attributable to AFAs in 2011

61% Percentage of firms that use AFAs, according to a 2011 Fulbright & Jaworski study

Mounting Mergers

Two recent surveys suggest that 2012 will be another big year for law firm mergers. First was an Altman Weil study showing that the number of legal combinations is keeping pace with pre-recession levels. The next day, a report from the Hildebrandt Institute showed a significantly greater increase in law firm mergers over 2011, using different reporting metrics. Read on for a comparison of the two surveys:

14 Mergers and acquisitions announced in Q1 of 2012, according to Altman Weil

16 Mergers and acquisitions announced in Q1 of 2012, according to the same survey

20 Law firm mergers in Q1 this year, according to a Hildebrandt Institute report

43% Percent increase in mergers over 2011, according to the Hildebrandt report

Securities Suits

An increase in mergers has brought an increase in merger-related securities class action suits. This week, The Wall Street Journal reported on the results of a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, which showed that the number of federal securities class action cases dealing with mergers and acquisitions rose to an all- time high in 2011.

48 Number of M&A-related cases filed in 2011

36 Number of these cases involving the Justice Department or Securities and Exchange Commission

9 Number of cases filed involving the financial crisis (the lowest number since 2008)

30% Decrease in the number of cases settled in 2011, compared to 2010

17% Increase in the total value of these settlements (from $2.9 billion in 2010 to $3.4 billion in 2011)

86% Percentage of 2011 federal findings that named CEOs as defendants