The Who’s Better Off Game:Legal Services Workers

When the nation struggles, do lawyers cash in? Republicans looking for a bright sign in an otherwise gloomy economic record can find one in the legal industry. Of course, then they’d have to stomach discussing why so many more lawyers are working today than four years ago, and why they’re making so much more money…

Lawyers have little to complain about these days. Law firms are adding jobs, and salaries are climbing. True, there are some black spots — in California, where the dot-com collapse rippled through law firms, there are about 8 percent fewer lawyers employed today than there were four years ago. But across the country, lawyers are making out very well.

The same can’t necessarily be said for paralegals and legal secretaries, however. Nationwide, payrolls have grown by more than 15 percent, but incomes have dropped. In New York, for instance, where there are about 2,000 more paralegals working today than in 2000, real wages have dropped by nearly 20 percent.