We keep asking our friends in the legal profession whether they’re worried about the economy, and the answer is always “no” or “only the lower-tier firms”. Not being familiar with law firm economics, we’ve just taken their word for it that the legal industry operates on a totally different plane where the ill winds don’t blow. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what they say.
Anyway, maybe not:
NYT: Law firms in turn are feeling the strain. Thelen and Heller Ehrman, two firms whose deep San Francisco roots extend back decades, have collapsed outright, in part because of the business slowdown. Each firm left several hundred lawyers out in the cold. Many others, including Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and Katten Muchin Rosenman, two Chicago firms ranked among the nation’s hundred most profitable by American Lawyer magazine, and the international giant Clifford Chance have jettisoned dozens of associates.
Still others, like Powell Goldstein, a 250-lawyer firm in Atlanta, are merging with larger rivals in deals that look like bids for stability. Over all, the Bureau of labour Statistics reported on Friday that the legal services industry lost more than 1,000 jobs in October.
The Times piece is kind of feature-ey, but this story seems to be developing fast. Today, AboveTheLaw reported layoffs, which seem to have come as quite a shock, at lawfirm White & Case. The total number of cut jobs reportedly came to about 100.
So we wonder: Everyone assumes that law-school admissions will spike, as elite college grads can’t count on Wall Street jobs. But if big law is no longer a sure thing, then what’s next? Med school? Nursing school? Academia (ha!)?
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