The forty year surge in lawyers and lawyering may be another victim of the current economic downturn. according to figures provided by Law Shucks . Big law firms have laid off 10,000 personnel, including 4,218 attorneys and 6,259 staff. The rate of these layoffs has also been accellerating: Following sporadic layoffs throughout 2008, just under 500 were laid off in December of last year. January, about 1,500 were laid off; February, about 2,700; and March, more than 3,600. These figures apparently do not include lawyers in small firms, solo practice, in-house counsel, or government jobs.
Since the mid-1960's becoming a lawyer has been on of the main avenues to middle class American success. This Paper Chase, celebrated by a host of television programs portraying lawyers as sexy crusaders for social justice, induced large numbers of Americans to enter law school. High salaries also helped; beginning associates at large firms can today earn $160,000 per year. At the same time jury verdicts soared, laws and regulations expanded, and courts asserted new powers.
Unless these layoff figures are a temporary glitch, then this whole social trend will come to an end.