Employment of lawyers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for legal work is expected to continue as individuals, businesses, and all levels of government require legal services in many areas.
Despite this need for legal services, more price competition over the next decade may lead law firms to rethink their project staffing to reduce costs to clients. Clients are expected to cut back on legal expenses by demanding less expensive rates and scrutinizing invoices. Work that was previously assigned to lawyers, such as document review, may now be given to paralegals and legal assistants. Some routine legal work may also be outsourced to other lower-cost legal providers located overseas.
While law firms will continue to be the largest employers of lawyers, many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments to cut costs. For many companies, the high cost of hiring outside counsel lawyers and their support staff makes it more economical to shift work to their in-house legal department. This will lead to an increase in the demand of lawyers in a variety of settings, such as financial and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers.
The federal government is likely to continue to need lawyers to prosecute or defend civil cases on behalf of the United States, prosecute criminal cases brought by the federal government, and collect money owed to the federal government. However, budgetary constraints at all levels of government, especially federal, will likely moderate employment growth.
Competition for jobs should continue to be strong because more students are graduating from law school each year than there are jobs available. Some recent law school graduates who have been unable to find permanent positions are turning to the growing number of temporary staffing firms that place attorneys in short-term jobs. This service allows companies to hire lawyers as needed and permits beginning lawyers to develop practical skills.
Because of the strong competition, a law school graduate's willingness to relocate and his or her work experience are becoming more important. However, to be licensed in another state, a lawyer may have to take an additional state bar examination.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program