Small Job Loss in the Law in July

The legal employment market saw a small downturn in July, losing 800 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The loss is narrower than June’s loss of nearly 4,000 jobs but was again somewhat countercyclical, since the private sector as a whole added a small number of jobs (overall job loss in July was primarily due to the loss of jobs among temporary census workers).

The report reinforces the good-news-bad-news conflict among indicators.  We regularly talk about those indicators and we’ve noted that it’s difficult, at this stage, to discern a consistent picture of the path forward for legal hiring.  Adding to the uncertainty is the negative indicator in yesterday’s decision by the Fed to reinvest proceeds from expiring investments into Treasury debt in a continuing effort to keep the supply of money high.

For students about to enter law school, the continuing cutbacks in legal employment are not necessarily bad news, provided that the economy as a whole regains its footing.  Part of the reason for that, as we’ve said before, is that if there’s a rebound in the economy—and therefore in the drivers of demand for lawyers—the current lean state of the legal market means that there will be a lot of holes to fill to meet that demand, which should bode well for newly-minted lawyers.

Recovery is a big “if,” though, and those considering law school should (as Advise-In does for our clients) project several scenarios for the legal market and the individual’s likely place in that market when deciding whether law school is a good investment and, if it is, in deciding which law school to attend, after accounting for the projected costs and rewards of law school education.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on August 11, 2010.

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