Growth of the Legal Industry

The number of citizens employed in the legal industry has steadily increased since 1950. The legal industry currently boasts that the market can continue to expect growth. Paralegals, in particular, have a projected growth much higher than the national average. The legal industry claims to bring in revenue more than three times that of movie exhibition, spectator sports, book publishing, and the restaurant and bar industry, and more than double the accounting industry.

The legal industry has not seen an across the board decline since the 1950s. Between 1997 and 2007 the average gross revenue of the top 250 firms rose 56%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that paralegal growth will increase by 28% through 2018, with approximately 74,100 more paralegals in 2018 than in 2008. Some studies show that growth just through 2012 will be 10–20%.

Even in times of recession, the legal industry continues to grow. During these hard times, more individuals and corporations are in need of legal assistance for matters such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, and other financial issues. Some paralegals are able to provide the same services as lawyers at a fraction of the cost; these paralegals are inclined to progress better during tough economic times.

Similarly, when the country is in a state of economic hard times, labor litigation and divorce rates have a tendency to rise. In turn, the legal industry continues its growth in these fields. Consumers are more likely to also make claims against companies for product liability or general liability. The corporate legal field experiences an influx of lawsuits and must grow to accommodate the workload.

As United States law firms have expanded globally, taking on clients from foreign countries while maintaining offices throughout the U.S., business continues to stay steady and even to rise. The need for paralegals grows rapidly when additional research needs to be done on foreign laws and customs. Government legal jobs stay resilient and have a healthy outlook for expansion as well, adjusting to meet the needs of the ever-growing population.

In good economic times, the legal industry also grows. During this time, discretionary legal services, such as drafting wills, estate planning, and real estate booms create additional need for legal aid. As trends change and services such as prenuptial agreements become more popular, the legal industry must grow to accommodate the changes by hiring additional paralegals for drafting and reviewing such documents. Likewise to meet the changing needs of Americans, firms focus on unbundling services suggesting additional work for smaller projects that were not an option before.

Paralegals may also experience more alternative dispute resolution duties and growth because litigation is costly and companies turn to these alternative measures to save money. For these reasons, economists have suggested hiring paralegals and other legal assistants at a higher rate than previously to provide the same services in an unconventional fashion. In doing so, the law firm stays protected and is able to generate more business, albeit at a lower price.

In general, growth projections for the legal industry are reassuring throughout the upcoming decade. Certain job titles, such as paralegals, have a higher forecast for percentage of growth than others; however, all numbers remain positive despite economic issues that may arise.


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