Sunday, January 27, 2008

Paralegal Outlook for 2008: We're Not Recession-Proof

Economists say we're heading into a recession, and the first question for many of us is, "Will I still be employed?"

The answer is maybe. According to Robert Half Legal, litigation paralegals will still be in demand as firms tackle rising caseloads, or so the optimists say.

But according to a recent post on The Estrin Report, the outlook for securities, real estate, and finance paralegals is grim. Estrin recalls the recent "booms": the Internet boom of 1999-2001 and the all-too-recent real estate boom. Both created an abundance of jobs, but once the bubble burst, paralegals, along with other professionals, were left scrambling for employment.

It is axiomatic that companies tend to spend more on outside services such as law firms when times are good than when the economy is in trouble. Even litigation caseload goes down (while bankruptcy work goes up).

Estrin continues:
As an aside, if your work is good and you and others in your organization are being told there is a problem with your performance—look out. This is often a sure sign that the firm or company is experiencing serious economic problems. Firms typically do not lay people off—they let them go under the guise of performance-related problems.

All around, recessions are bad news, and paralegals are not immune. If you haven't already, start looking at opportunities to cross-train and learn new areas of law. Keep your resume updated. Don't let a "layoff" catch you napping.

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