About 1/3 of Law Firms Plan to Hire in 2012

CourtroomWell, here's a breath of fresh air.  According to the Denver Business Journal, a Robert Half Survey found that 1/3 of law firms surveyed are planning on increasing their attorney and non-attorney staff in 2012. 

Of course, the Negative Nellies can interpret that to say that two-thirds of law firms surveyed do not plan on increasing staff in 2012.  Is the glass half-full or is the glass half-empty?

According to the survey, about one in three law firms and corporate counsel nationwide plan to add legal staff in the first quarter of 2012, according to the quarterly Robert Half Legal. The survey found that 31 percent of lawyers interviewed plan to add staff in the next quarter, while 4 percent plan to cut personnel.

The net 27 percent increase in projected hiring is up 3 points from 24 percent in the previous quarter’s forecast. But the really good news is: Lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries are the three most in-demand positions.

The practice areas expected to see the most growth in the first quarter are bankruptcy and foreclosure, litigation, labor and employment law,“Although law firms continue to have a cautious hiring outlook, they’re optimistic enough about their prospects to want to add full-time staff in key legal and support positions that bolster growth,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “They continue to focus on hiring senior- and partner-level lawyers with substantial books of business and expertise in high-demand practice areas, such as bankruptcy and foreclosure, litigation, and labor and employment law.”

Still, lawyers’ confidence in their companies’ prospects for growth is down slightly, with 73 percent of lawyers “somewhat” or “very confident” in their companies’ growth opportunities, down from 82 percent in the last quarter.t was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.