Are Happy Times here again? According to a recent report in Crain's Business Report, fewer lawyers and paralegals received lay-off notices in July.
The battered legal market seems to be coming back. Crain's noted, " Fewer attorneys and paralegals lost their jobs in July than in June, inspiring some optimism among members of the legal profession.
About 800 legal workers lost their jobs last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to the 3,200 lawyers, paralegals and legal assistants who were forced to hit the streets in June."
That's great news! Crain's went on to report:
"We found out during the recession that there was an oversupply of lawyers,” said Stephen Younger, president of the New York State Bar Association and a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. “With [legal] employment down 10%, that tells you how much work there is out there.”
In New York especially, the legal industry closely followed the financial industry in its boom times—after all, behind every successful deal lies a team of lawyers to hammer out the details. When the credit markets dried up, so did the stream of legal work.
Since last July, the legal industry has lost more than 17,000 jobs, according to the national labor bureau."
OK, some good news in a sour economy. But to me, that's only part of it. Realistically, are your skills up-to-date for what it takes to compete in this market? I just got off the phone this morning with a paralegal who has been out of work for two years. I was surprised that he was out of work for that long. Some years ago when I was the founder of one of the larger contract attorney and paralegal staffing companies in the U.S., I knew him as a go-getter paralegal with great reviews.
He called because he wanted to take one of the online, 8 week, eDiscovery courses The OLP is offering. With my ever-present career hat on, I asked him a couple of questions to determine whether he should be taking the eDiscovery 101A or the advanced course. Come to find out, he didn't even know what eDiscovery was. He has almost 20 years of experience in the field. He thought eDiscovery was eFilings.
I felt so badly that he is so far out of the loop that I gave him a scholarship to attend eDiscovery 101A in hopes that would help bring him up-to-date and find a position. If memory served me, he was a diligent, smart, dedicated worker. Now, I could see how far behind he has become in terms of skill level and technology skills he needs to even exist in today's market.
Good news that so many fewer legal professionals are getting laid-off! But don't let yourself slide…..a more solid economy does not equate to job security. Stay in the KNOW and keep taking continuing legal education. It's worth the extra effort, believe me.