It's an old saw that the legal market is recession proof – in the sense that people may stop buying houses (which is bad news for property lawyers) but there is a corresponding increase in debt recovery and insolvency work. But is there any truth behind this theory?

According to the Cowen Group (www.cowengroup.com) a US recruitment consultancy specializing in the legal technology market, the number of litigation support positions are on the rise, and salaries for this market are projected to rise by year end to be in line with the demand for talent. This report comes out at the same time the US Department of Labor Statistics reports that the US legal service sector* has lost 9700 jobs since a year ago and 4200 in the last six months.
  
“Despite deep and ongoing layoffs in many other industries and the legal sector at large, our research shows job growth in the legal technology market has remained strong,” said David Cowen. “From 2006 to 2007, the number of litigation support job openings grew 25 percent nationwide. So far this year, the East Coast is up 15 percent, Chicago is up 10 percent, Texas is up 35 percent and the West Coast is up 10 percent.”
 
The research for the Salary Survey also shows that most large firms are actively backfilling litigation support positions plus adding to staff while small and mid-sized firms are rapidly adding these litigation support roles for the first time. “Despite this increase in demand for talent, salaries are holding steady and remain in line with what they were a year ago,” continued Cowen.  “However, we project that as the economy picks back up, new litigations get started and the corporate market engages, salaries will begin to rise noticeably by year end.”
 
* According to The US Department of Labor, 1.17 million people, or less than one percent of the US job market overall call themselves 'legal service employees' which they classify as lawyers, paralegals, support staff, librarians, and secretaries.