Employment at Largest U.S. Law Firms Up Just 1.1 Percent Last Year, According to The National Law Journal's 2013 NLJ 350

NEW YORK, June 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hiring at the nation's top law firms expanded at an anemic rate of just over 1 percent in 2012, a signal that the legal sector has not yet fully recovered from the blow of the Great Recession.

ALM's The National Law Journal today published the 2013 NLJ 350, a list of the nation's 350 largest law firms, reporting that headcount marginally increased last year among the top law firms in the U.S. The NLJ 350 collectively employed 141,056 lawyers in 2012, up 1.1 percent from 139,551 in 2011.

The NLJ 350 appears in the June 10th issue of the newspaper and is also available online now at www.nlj.com. The NLJ 350 Regional Report, a breakdown of attorney headcounts in top U.S. and international markets, will publish on June 17th. The National Law Journal will publish additional stories about its NLJ 350 results during the next two weeks at www.nlj.com.

"The 1.1 percent uptick in the number of lawyers working in the nation's largest 350 law firms was slower than the 1.7 percent employment growth from a year ago and is one of the smallest increases we've seen in nearly two decades," said David L. Brown, editor in chief of The National Law Journal. "Moreover, 140 of the firms in the NLJ 350 — or 40 percent of them — actually decreased in size last year. It's clear that the U.S. legal services market has not yet fully recovered from the recession years of 2008-2010."

Brown noted that the number of partners at NLJ 350 law firms expanded by 1.5 percent in 2012, while associate numbers edged up by just 1 percent.

The Top 10 law firms on the 2013 NLJ 350 included the same 10 firms that appeared on last year's rankings, with just the top two firms switching places this year:

  1. DLA Piper (4,036 lawyers)
  2. Baker & McKenzie (4,004)
  3. Jones Day (2,363)
  4. Hogan Lovells (2,280)
  5. Latham & Watkins (2,033)
  6. White & Case (1,900)
  7. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (1,735)
  8. K&L Gates (1,720)
  9. Greenberg Traurig (1,699)
  10. Sidley Austin (1,636)

The big movers on this year's list were Ice Miller (headcount increased 37 percent to 301 lawyers), Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens and Cannada (35 percent; 240 lawyers), and Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy (32 percent; 404 lawyers).

About The NLJ 350

The NLJ 350 rankings are based on the average number of full-time equivalent attorneys for the period Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012. Lawyer counts do not include contract or temporary attorneys. A firm must have more lawyers based in the United States than in any other single country to be included on the list.

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Source: ALM