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Law Jobs Plummet at a Record Pace

Job losses in April equaled two years of losses in 2008.

Law jobs – like all other sectors of the US workforce – have taken a huge hit in the COVID-19 crisis, with firm furloughs and layoffs reaching record levels.

In fact, job losses for the month of April alone are close to the two years of losses recorded during the entire 2008 recession.

From the ABA Journal: “The legal services sector lost 64,000 jobs in April, according to seasonally adjusted numbers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since April of last year, the sector lost 48,400 jobs. The legal services sector had 1,097,600 jobs in April, compared to 1,161,600 jobs in March and 1,162,700 jobs in February. The one-month job losses are close to two-year losses in the legal services sector during the recession that began in December 2007.”

But here’s good news: the slippage is slowing. Fewer large and midsize firms announced pay cuts, terminations and furloughs in the first week of May than in prior weeks.

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From April 2 through the first week of May, more than 60 major law firms across the US took downsizing measures, some of them drastic.

“Among the questions vexing law firms cutting costs are how to deal with partners recently recruited with the help of a guaranteed pay package, Bloomberg Law reports,” reports the ABA Journal. “In many cases, lateral partner compensation is protected for at least two years after coming on board. Cutting compensation for these partners isn’t as much as a problem when the lateral deal promises an incoming partner a place on the firm’s tiered point system, according to Bloomberg. It’s more problematic when lawyers receive a minimum salary guarantee. The guarantee can be higher than $10 million for some superstars.”

What’s the situation at your firm? Have you had to make cutbacks? What are your future plans?

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