If you have gone shopping or eaten in a restaurant lately, you have probably seen help wanted signs. While there certainly appears to be a shortage of retail and hospitality workers in the U.S., virtually no sector of the economy is immune. This includes law firms.
According to reporting from Bloomberg News, the 50 largest law firms in the U.S. have seen an 8% increase in attorney workloads in the last couple of years. Despite this substantial increase, these firms have only increased the staff in their offices by roughly 0.7%.
A limited number of available attorneys
A limited number of available attorneys is one cause of the staffing shortages at major law firms. That is, even if a firm is looking to expand, it may not be able to find qualified lawyers who can fill open positions. Regrettably, this issue is probably not exclusive to large firms, as many smaller and boutique firms may also struggle to find new employees.
The risk to clients
Legal matters are often highly complex. Not only must attorneys understand the legal and factual circumstances in a case, but they also must comply with tight filing deadlines. If a law firm has too few attorneys, paralegals and support personnel, attorneys may not be able to stay on top of their caseloads. They also may have insufficient time to think about legal matters and provide competent counsel.
When you retain a law firm, you expect to receive reliable legal representation. Ultimately, if a staffing shortage at a law firm causes you to sustain damages, you may have sufficient grounds for a successful legal malpractice claim.