Midwest law firm Husch Blackwell announced that by the end of the year 40 lawyers will leave through layoffs and retirements.
All are partners or counsels.
The reason given is to align manpower with what specializations are in demand.
Reductions-in-force, for whatever reason and in whatever form, transmit a scary signal to all lawyers.
The legal sector has not bounced back in number of employees post the crash.
Litigation has been hit especially hard since then. The slow recovery forced corporations to delay or not pursue litigation.
In addition, technologies such as artificial intelligence can do an increasing number of legal tasks faster, more accurately, and more cost-efficiently than humans. Those range from planning strategy to document review. LexisNexis has been acquiring AI firms.
Meanwhile blockchain technology hovers over longer-term manpower demand in the legal sector. For instance, venture capitalist and former practicing lawyer Michael Arrington used blockchain's smart contracts to transact his real estate purchase in the Ukraine.
In October 2017, reports Kathryn Rubino, at Abovethelaw.com, the legal sector lost 1,100 jobs. Here is that coverage.
Back in 2009, 6,000 lawyers were terminated. Here is that coverage by Rubino.
Unlike other sectors of the economy, those who lose their jobs practicing law find it difficult to re-enter. Their more realistic options include opening their own firms or leveraging their legal background in another field such as the corporate compliance department.
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