The number of associates at the nation’s 350 largest law firms remained flat in 2014, hovering around 67,400 for the second straight year. But associates made up an ever smaller segment of large-firm lawyers — a decline that began during the recession.
Outsourcing and the rise of temporary attorneys continue to chip away at demand for associates. Moreover, there were no major overseas law firm mergers to bolster the associate ranks, as happened in 2013 when the combination between Fulbright & Jaworski and Norton Rose helped send the overall associate head count up 3.6 percent. In 2014, the major law firm mergers were domestic and brought no additional associates into the national fold.
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