How will the coronavirus impact the legal job market?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has had an impact on all areas of life. One question running through many law students and law graduate’s minds is how the coronavirus will impact the legal job market.

At this time, there is no telling what the landscape will look like in a month or even three months from now. However, we offer some thoughts on what might happen in this post.

UPDATE 4/9/20: there are reports online that firms are decreasing pay, cutting employees, and/or furloughing employees. 

UPDATE 5/5/20: law firms are facing a decrease in the number of new cases/clients.

How will the coronavirus impact the legal job market?

If you took the February 2020 bar exam, the legal job market is very likely on your mind. And, as the coronavirus’ reach doesn’t seem to be slowing down, law students graduating in May 2020 also might be worried about the impact this might have on their job prospects.

Note: if you are planning to take the July 2020 bar exam, please check our post about the states that are canceling this July administration, and moving it to fall 2020. 

Will there be hiring?

The coronavirus’ impact on the legal job market at this time is very uncertain, as with everything involving the coronavirus. However, we see positives and negatives in this situation.

Positives

It is always possible to do the hiring process remotely. Meaning resumes and cover letters can be submitted online, and interviews can be conducted over the phone or through a live video chat. Therefore, we are not worried about the possibility of interviewing amid this coronavirus pandemic.

One possibility that could come from the coronavirus pandemic is a rise in certain areas of law, such as estate planning, contracts (from canceled memberships and events), or medical malpractice. Also, there could be a whole slew of new legal issues raised by this situation, since many of the actions taken are unprecedented. More work to be done naturally leads to an increase in hiring.

Plus, there still are job postings up on online hiring sites, which is very promising. And, the ABA wrote a story about how there is a high demand for lawyers right now.

Here is a master list of companies hiring and freezing hiring. This may not be helpful for those looking for law firm advice.

There are certain positives to the outlook of the legal job market in light of the coronavirus.

Negatives

At this time, many courts are on a limited schedule. And, many law firms are operating remotely for the most part. This likely will impact the legal job market simply because it is a different mode of working that courts and firms are not used to. So, hiring is not high on their priority list when everyone is trying to figure out the basics of remote work. Also, it may be hard to train a new attorney when everyone is working remotely, so this might make employers leery about hiring someone new.

Firms seeing a decline in work due to the coronavirus may not be looking to hire new attorneys. Additionally, the possibility of a recession on the horizon may make firms leerier to hire. Especially if we see a repeat of what happened in 2008-2009.

Final thoughts

Everyone looking for a legal job should take solace in the fact that the law field is not going anywhere. Lawyers are still needed, even in the wake of a global pandemic.

Wondering how the coronavirus might impact law school graduation? Check out our post! And, here is JD Advising’s take on how the coronavirus might affect summer internships and clerkships.

You can also sign up for our free early bar prep tips here! We will include coronavirus updates in the early bar prep tips—so you will be the first to know about any important updates! Here are some tips on how to prep for the bar during the coronavirus outbreak.

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