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Survey: One-Third of Lawyers Expect to Increase Hiring of Entry-Level Associates

MENLO PARK, Calif., March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The job market for newly minted associates is showing signs of improvement. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of lawyers recently interviewed for a Robert Half Legal survey said their law firm or company plans to increase its hiring of entry-level associates in the next 12 months. Five percent of lawyers said they expect to decrease hiring while 60 percent anticipate no change in hiring activity.

While job responsibilities may vary, certain skills are deemed essential for new associates. Nearly half (48 percent) of lawyers surveyed said analytical or critical thinking abilities are the most important skills for entry-level lawyers to possess, aside from legal knowledge. Interpersonal skills ranked second, with 32 percent of the survey response.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing and consulting services firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 350 telephone interviews with lawyers in the United States and Canada: 175 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 175 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.

Lawyers were asked, "Does your law firm or company plan to increase its hiring of entry-level lawyers in the next 12 months?" Their responses:*

Increase significantly


Increase slightly


Decrease slightly


Decrease significantly


Neither increase nor decrease


Don't know/no answer




                            *Total percentage does not equal 100 due to rounding.

Lawyers were also asked, "Aside from legal knowledge, which one of the following areas of expertise is most important for entry-level lawyers to possess?" Their responses:

Analytical or critical thinking abilities


Interpersonal skills


Writing skills


Technology skills


Negotiation skills




Don't know/no answer




"As the economy gains strength, law firms and corporate legal departments are expanding their teams to pursue new business opportunities," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "While the legal job market has yet to return to pre-recession levels, hiring prospects for new lawyers are improving as employers recruit first-year and summer associates to support busy practice groups."

To enhance their marketability, job seekers need to highlight in-demand skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving and team collaboration, on their resumes and during interviews, Volkert added. "Pursuing additional training or enrolling in continuing legal education programs can help early-career professionals gain expertise in these areas and excel in today's competitive environment," he said.

About Robert Half Legal 
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing and consulting services division of Robert Half. A premier legal employment agency, Robert Half Legal provides highly skilled legal professionals for law firms and corporate legal departments on a temporary, project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, the company offers a full suite of legal staffing and consulting services to help organizations manage constantly changing workloads and access expertise across in-demand legal practice areas. More information, including online job search services, can be found at For career and management advice, follow our Legal Blog at


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SOURCE Robert Half Legal

For further information: Lisa Hamilton, (650) 234-6234,