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March 16, 2019


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Steve L.

Great series, Bernie. Another question is why public sector hiring has not expanded with the growing economy. I hope you will address that in a future post.

Bernie Burk

I really appreciate that, Steve. Your question--why public-sector hiring has not increased with the growing economy--is a good one. My best guess is that there are three reasons. One is that public-sector spending generally, and on lawyers especially, is broadly unpopular at all levels of government. So it likely gets short shrift in budget discussions. The second is that, with the combination of government employers' wishes for more experienced and therefore efficient practitioners (which also helps limit training costs) and the general slack in the employment market likely inducing more government lawyers not to leave government for the private sector each year, there is less need for hires fresh out of school than before the recession. And third, since the job market crashed after 2007, a practice has developed of placing unemployed new graduates into unpaid or school-funded "internships" with government legal departments of many kinds, which gives those students experience in return for their services, and satisfies a fair amount of what might otherwise be need (or at least tolerance) for hiring entry-level lawyers in those agencies.

I confess I have no more than anecdotal evidence for the first two, but those phenomena have been confirmed in general and industry press reporting.

Does that make sense to you?


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