Legal jobs up 3% YOY with flat gains in June

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REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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  • Year-over-year increase lags broader U.S. employment
  • Little movement from May to June

RALEIGH, NC (Reuters) - There were 1,137,900 jobs in the U.S. legal sector in June, up 2.9% from the same time last year, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

Legal services jobs have increased slowly since January as law firms and their clients ease out of the pandemic crisis. The industry saw a nominal employment increase of 0.44% from May to June.

Although the legal sector workforce is gradually recovering from the blow of the pandemic, it's not beating the broader job market. Overall U.S. employment jumped 5.75% to 145,759,000 in June compared to last year. Jobs held roughly steady month-over-month with an increase of 0.54%, in line with the legal industry's flat growth.

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The legal industry also still has a lot of ground to make up. Legal services clocked 27,400 fewer jobs in June than in February 2020, right before pandemic-related lockdowns began shutting down U.S. cities.

The Labor Department figures for the legal sector include lawyers, paralegals and law firm administrative assistants at employers of all sizes. On the Big Law front, the employment picture may be rosier.

With corporate deals flowing and litigation returning to high gear, major U.S. law firms have been in a war for talent, sparking a race to increase associate salaries. First-year associates are now commanding $205,000 at a growing number of firms.

Firms are also expanding their footprints. Barnes & Thornburg and O'Melveny & Myers launched offices in Boston and Dallas, respectively, in the last week. Crowell & Moring picked up offices in Chicago and Indianapolis in its acquisition of intellectual property firm Brinks Gilson & Lione last week.

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Crowell & Moring to merge with IP firm Brinks in Midwest expansion

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Arriana McLymore reports on the business of law, including diversity in the profession, corporate practices, legal education and attorney career life cycles.