An American survey has revealed a significant increase in the number of firms looking to hire staff.
According to the American legal recruitment company Robert Half Legal, who commissioned the survey, 31 per cent of lawyers plan to add staff in the first quarter of next year, with only one percent expecting a decrease.
This is a seven per cent increase on the fourth quarter forecast.
The survey was based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at firms with 20 or more employees, with an additional 100 in-house counsel at companies in excess of 1000 people also canvassed.
The great majority of respondents (82%) said they were "somewhat confident" that their firm or company would expand in 2011, but over half of the respondents (52%) said that it is "somewhat or very challenging" to find skilled legal professionals when recruiting.
While the survey was largely optimistic with regards to hiring intentions, respondents were pessimistic about the state of the American economy, with bankruptcy and foreclosure cited as the most likely area in the law (30%) to have the most growth in the first three months of 2011.