Special Counsel Legal Industry Jobs Report: February 2016

An employment summary based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) February 2016 monthly jobs report.

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is out and the job additions for January did not live up to predictions. Only 151,000 new jobs were added in January but after two strong months at the end of 2015, job gains averaged 231,000 per month over the last 3 months. The big news this morning is our national unemployment rate, which now sits at 4.9 percent. This is the lowest it has been since 2008, according to BLS’s February 5 report.

February Legal Jobs Report

The professional and business services sector, which houses the legal services subsector, added 9,000 new jobs month-over month. While this number is significantly less than previous months, industry experts say this will not be an ongoing trend. They point to 2015’s performance that saw 2.65 million new jobs added, the second best year in terms of employment gains since 1999.

Legal services lost 1,400 jobs, but the number could trend upwards based on previous months:

  • January: -1,400
  • December: +1,200
  • November: +600
  • October: +700


Overall, earnings are up slightly year-over-year (for professional and business services, average hourly earnings climbed from $29.77 in January 2015 to $30.50 in January 2016) and minimally month-over-month (for professional and business services, average hourly earnings went from $30.28 in December 2015 to $30.50 in January 2016).

Here are 2016 legal salary ranges, based largely on company size and geographic area, for top positions and how their roles are being defined at law firms and in corporate legal departments across the nation:

  • Patent Agent: $64,334 – $123,116
    • Assists with patent application process
    • Review technical documents
    • Prepares substantive documents related to prosecution
    • Support prosecution strategy
  • Paralegal: $44,94 – $72,415:
    • Organizes and maintains documents/evidence to prepare for trials or depositions
    • Requires a paralegal certificate
    • Requires 1 year of experience
  • Legal Assistant: $41,489 – $67,759:
    • Assists with admin and legal tasks
    • Requires a paralegal certificate
    • Requires 0-3 years of experience
  • Title Underwriter: $42,107 – $76,487:
    • Underwrites mortgage loan applications
    • Evaluates loans
    • Focuses on maximizing organizational profit
    • Minimizes risk or loss
  • Legal Secretary: $38,047 – $62,710:
    • Prepares, formats and revises briefs
    • Prepares, formats and revises subpoenas and other correspondence
    • Organizes and manages billing, files and travel logistics

For the full list of top legal jobs in 2016, take a look at our infographic.  To see the latest salary figures for all legal jobs, request our free 2016 Salary Guide.

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