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Legal profession faring well

Nationally jobs are down, but region is steady

iStock image used with permission.

Jobs in the legal profession nationally dipped for the second straight month, according to a recent federal report.

Local officials say the Rochester market has not been hit as hard. However, more than 1,100 jobs were lost nationally in the legal field in the month of November. The total number of unemployed throughout all industries was 15.1 million in November, bringing the overall unemployment rate to 9.8 percent — up from 9.6 percent in each of the last three months, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Tammy Marino, a Rochester-based economist with the New York State Department of Labor, said the state does not track jobs in the legal field. She said they are lumped in with the professional, scientific and technical services in state reports. That statistical group is up from 21,800 jobs last year to 21,900 jobs. She said that’s mainly due to a growth in accounting jobs in the Rochester area. There were 180 annual average openings for accountants and auditors, including job openings because of growth as well as turnover.

Marino said the labor department predicts a 9 percent growth in legal jobs through 2016 from 3,540 to 3,860. That’s three times the growth of other professions. Though the number of attorney jobs is not growing quickly, Marino said that’s tied to the economy.

Monroe County Bar Association President Susan Laluk said most firms are not laying off, but hiring is at a very slow pace — if at all.

“We’re seeing fewer entry level jobs for the kids who are just coming out of law school,” she said. “It started a couple years ago when the economy took a nose dive. I think it’s stabilized, but it’s still not great.”

She said some clients are being more cautious about their legal budgets and are leery about having young attorneys work on their cases. 

“From what we’re hearing from some of the in-house and clients, they don’t want to pay for training. If they have a sense they’re paying more for training than legal advice, they don’t like it,” Laluk said. “That’s probably always been true, but maybe more now than ever.”

Hiscock & Barclay LLP, where Laluk is a partner, did hire one summer clerk and will likely increase that number next year. The firm has hired some attorneys moving laterally, though.

“It’s different for young attorneys than those making lateral moves,” she said. “Firms are looking for a book of business to come with [lateral hires]. It’s a different economic decision. With a young attorney you have to have enough work to keep them busy. They don’t usually have enough clients coming out of law school and not all firms have that work.”

Laluk said she’s seen other areas hit much harder than Rochester.

“New York City has suffered much, much more,” she said. “They have massive layoffs of associates. We haven’t really seen that here in Monroe County to that extent. Here, you’re just seeing a slow down in hiring, which isn’t good if you’re a student just getting out of school.”

Some fields have fared better than others. Temporary help services and health care fields continued to add jobs over the month, while employment fell in retail trade. Employment in most major industries changed little over the past month. Unemployment rates for adult men fell to 10.0 percent, adult women were at 8.4 percent.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 390,000 to 9.5 million in November. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 6.3 million and accounted for 41.9 percent of the unemployed, according the report.

The state Department of Labor has not released November’s unemployment statistics, but in October, the economy gained 40,500 private sector jobs, a .6 percent increase. This was the state’s largest monthly increase since April 2005.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent between September and October. The number of unemployed New York State residents dropped slightly from 798,600 in September to 797,800 in October. The statewide labor force rose by 1,200 over this period.

Private-sector employment increased by 93,000 from October to November on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest ADP national employment report, released this month. This month’s ADP national employment report shows an acceleration of employment and suggests the nation’s employment situation is brightening somewhat. November’s gain in private-sector employment is the largest in three years. This is the tenth consecutive month of gains, averaging 47,000 during that period. Nevertheless, employment gains of this magnitude are not sufficient to lower the unemployment rate, which likely will remain above 9 percent for all of 2011.