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No Surprise, Growth at Nation's Largest Firms on the Decline

The National Law Journal's annual survey of the nation's largest law firms is out, and not surprisingly, growth is down from the incredible gains reported last year. But make no mistake, firms are still in fact growing, just at a slower pace. Last year, firms added 4.3 percent more attorneys, compared with 5.6 percent growth in 2007, with 133,723 lawyers working at the top 250 law firms compared with 128,213 attorneys in 2007. Even more interesting, the 4.3 percent growth rate is still larger than the 4 percent rate of 2006. Experts quoted in the article explained that the growth rate reflects the reality that firms need to continue to recruit new talent even in tough times, in anticipation of replacing soon-to-be-retiring boomer lawyers.

Partner totals also lagged, with an increase in partners of just 3.5 percent compared to 4.6 percent last year, and 5.1 percent in 2006. The number of female partners remained the same as well, with an average of 39.4 female partners compared to 39.3 in 2007.

Has the legal industry hit rock bottom yet? Will growth continue to decline, with top law firms shrinking in size next year? Or is 2008 a brief dip that will level out over the next few months as firms gear up to deal with some of the new legal issues that might arise under an Obama administration. Post your thoughts below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 10, 2008 at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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