Bloomberg Law
Oct. 2, 2020, 2:54 PM

Legal Sector Jobs Up Slightly as Overall Employment Slows

Elizabeth Olson
Elizabeth Olson
Special Correspondent

The legal sector added 3,100 jobs in September, a modest uptick after August doldrums as the economic turmoil from the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The seasonally adjusted job gains, reported by the Labor Department Friday, follow an August in which the legal sector did not add employees to payrolls. In September, employers posted more people to their payrolls as firms—and their employees—grow accustomed to handling legal matters from home offices.

The larger economic recovery slowed over the month, however. Overall non-farm payrolls added a seasonally adjusted 661,000 jobs, bumping the unemployment rate down to 7.9%. The overall job gains are about half of 1.37 million added in August. The newest figures do not reflect the layoffs in recent days by large corporations such as Disney.

The additional legal jobs in September bring the total number employed in the industry to 1.11 million, according to Labor Department figures. Law firms and others are still adjusting their operations to reflect the new reality of both lawyers and staff largely working remotely.

Legal sector uncertainty had nearly frozen firm combinations for some months but interest is picking up again, paving the way for more consolidation next year.

Big Law firms have started to back away from austerity measures imposed last spring to navigate the unexpected impact of the pandemic. In recent weeks, major firms like Perkins Coie have been restoring earlier salary cuts. More than two dozen big firms earlier had reduced or deferred the equity draws for their partners.

Some firms have also started to pay out Covid-19 bonuses to their attorneys.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at; Rebekah Mintzer at