Recession is not a Moot Topic of Discussion Among Unemployed Lawyers in Chicago

Recession is not a Moot Topic of Discussion Among Unemployed Lawyers in Chicago



A group of unemployed lawyers meets in Chicago’s downtown area every two weeks to share employment opportunities and talk about the frustrations they experience while doing their job searches, as well as to lend support to one another.

Calling themselves the “Senior In-House Counsel In Transition,” some of them have been without a job for almost two years or more. They all used to have a job with various corporate law departments and each of them has over 15 years of legal experience.

They all admit that the legal profession was reshaped by the great recession. During this time, corporate legal departments and law firms let go of thousands of lawyers to minimize costs. Everyone used to think that these jobs would return once the economy gets better. However, it may seem that a return to normalcy is a thing that is still beyond the horizon.

Like almost every employer, the legal industry has learned to do more tasks with less personnel. Attorneys are now working harder than ever while keeping a tight grip on clients to sustain their billable hours. Companies are now outsourcing commodity legal tasks like writing confidentiality agreements and simple contracts. Finding project-based lawyers instead of hiring full-time staff for temporary tasks have also become the norm.

Susan Hallsby, aged 50, has spent twenty years working in corporate law departments. Recently, she was with OSI Industries, a privately owned food processor located in Aurora, as assistant general counsel. When company decided to downsize in October 2009 to survive, Hallsby was among those who was let go because she was one of the company’s recent hires.

While Hallsby has experienced being unemployed before, she says that it is different this time.