(Reuters) – New US Labor Department figures on Friday showed that the US legal services sector lost 600 jobs in March, marking the first monthly decline in employment in the industry since September.
Legal sector jobs totaled 1,180,900 last month, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The count includes attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals.
Across US industries, the economy continued to add jobs in March, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.5%. The continued tightness of the labor market may lead to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates again next month.
Labor Department statistics showed that legal employment has fallen by 7,000 jobs since reaching an all-time high in July. US law firms banded together in 2024 and 2024 to take advantage of unusually high client demand for advice on corporate deals and other legal work.
After declining in August and September, the number of jobs in the US legal sector remained relatively flat or increased slightly month on month.
During the same period, several large US law firms, including Cooley, Goodwin Procter, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, and Shearman & Sterling, laid off lawyers and staff in the face of a cooler M&A environment and declining demand.
This week, the Silicon Valley-founded Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian law firm said it was cutting 10% of its American attorneys, paralegals, and employees.
Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis also cut an unspecified number of attorney jobs this week, though a company spokesperson described the move as “performance-based” rather than layoffs.
Companies including Davis Wright Tremaine and Perkins Coie have also abandoned business professionals.
Jeffrey Lowe of legal staffing firm Major Lindsey & Africa told Reuters this week that he expects to see more law firm layoffs in the second quarter of the year.
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