Lawyerrr wrote:The hiring market for corporate attorneys is actually pretty good right now. The M&A market can't really get much hotter. Don't know if that'll be the case 4 years from now. Chances are, we'll have a recession from now till then.
But... how many more jobs does this create? We are talking about the very top of the pyramid doing fancy ass M&A stuff. And are they asking for experienced attorneys or junior folks? I'm genuinely curious. That makes a difference for this conversation.
I really don't know what percentage of first-year legal hiring is for corporate, probably fairly small relative to all U.S. first-year legal hiring. But that's all I can really speak to because that's what I do.
I know that the summer class size at my firm is the same size as it was in the good old days. We're also hiring a ton of laterals. So the market seems to be good for entry-levels and experienced attorneys.
I really wouldn't try to predict what will happen in 2018-2019. If you look at U.S. economic cycles, we generally have a recession every 5-10 years. We had one from from roughly 2008 to 2009. It's 2015 now. Chances are, we'll have another one in the next few years, and legal hiring will be tough again for a year or so. I'm no economist, though. I think you just need to do what you want to do and not worry about stuff like that.[/quote]
To think that we are going to have a recession for the sake of cyclicality is how people get things very
wrong. But yeah, there will eventually be another rough spot where we have two consecutive quarters of negative growth. But not every recession creates the kind of bloodletting that occurred between 07 and 09. It also kind of assumes that prior recessions were necessary - in all honesty some of them were rather avoidable.
Part of the reason that the Great Recession was so bad for the legal industry was that it was living the high life prior to the bad times. It was easy to bill whatever you wanted to and clients were not as worried about cost cutting and money saving measures. Times have radically changed. Billing practices have changed and businesses have squeezed a lot of law firms for cost savings. I know one big change is that non-NYC firms are still nowhere near hiring the way they were a decade ago. That is not likely to change.
And I'm not too worried about automation in the legal industry. A lot of what can be automated has already been automated and is on its way to being perfected. The firm I will work at doesn't even have first year associates do all that much document review or due diligence. The first phase of those jobs is doled out to contract attorneys and its one of the reasons that summer associate classes are still so small. My firm is also not a leveraged one - I think we're closer to a 1:1 partner to associate ratio then to a 1:2 ratio. I think my office only has something like 1 paralegal to 3 attorneys - if that. BTW, paralegals are one group that have been really burned by automation.
Also, having worked in a highly automated legal practice I have seen how it is really easy for lawyers to get burned by the process. One mistake in automation can lead to hundreds or thousands of liabilities going out the door. So it can still be a fairly manpower intensive process compared to other office work that has been automated since documents still need a set of eyes put on them before going out there door. Robo signers have been getting burned hard by the courts, so it will be interesting what happens with that kind of stuff.
But to get to the point, as some other posters have already said, the legal industry is not going to be experiencing any kind of radical growth in the near future. Beyond the reasons stated above, the governments within the United States are not looking to be hiring ... ever. There is no foreseeable need for a massive amount of lawyers in the near future. And at some point you need a JD with experience, so it doesn't matter if there are 1000 folks with JDs fighting for a job if none of them have the requisite experience to hold the position. So if you're golden right now you are probably "okay" in the future.
And on the flip side, we've been in a period of deregulation for the past couple of decades. That is more likely than not to change in the future, which should at least keep hiring static.