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United States Legal Hiring and Law Firm Market

Since the economic downturn of 2008, law firms have taken a number of years to recover both in terms of new client work and willingness to spend on expanding staff levels.  They are, however, slowly gaining in confidence, leading to an increase in spending, which includes hiring budgets.  This is good news for experienced attorneys looking to move to a large law firm.

It must be noted, however, that the type of attorneys that law firms are looking to hire has changed, with the big national or international law firms looking for candidates who have either substantial pro bono work, or some industry experience, in addition to their legal experience.

While the impact of the economic downturn continues to affect lawyers who have been looking for new roles,  however market research has indicated that the law firm recruitment market is finally improving. With approximately 70 mergers of law firms, including several big firm mergers occurring in North America in 2013 it is an exciting time to be looking to build a career.

Significantly, firms such as Baker & McKenzie LLP, McLeod LLP, Cadwalader, Wickersham &Taft LLP, Davies Ward Phillips and Jones Day, to name just a few law firms are actively looking for talented attorneys, at a mid or senior career level, particularly in corporate, litigation and IP areas of law. With the major law firms demanding attorneys with extensive work experience in their specific areas of legal expertise,  however, this makes it difficult for more junior attorneys to break into the market.

Therefore, while the U.S. legal market is recovering and law firms are showing greater confidence, it is probably not the best time for junior lawyers to be looking to change law firms. For more senior attorneys, however, with both pro bono or work experience in corporate, commercial and litigation, depending on the general level of law firm that you have been working within, you could be in demand by both international and large national law firms.