Over the past few years, there’s been an alarming trend in the U.S. — a worker shortage. Businesses across the country have been forced to alter operation plans and explore creative solutions to the problem of having too many open positions and not enough workers to fill them. 

The national hiring desert naturally impacts different industries in unique ways. If you run a law firm, it’s essential to be aware of the current state of hiring in the U.S., how the worker shortage might be hurting your firm, and what steps you can take to protect your work quality and reputation.

National Worker Shortages Continue to Rise

Finding and retaining qualified employees continues to be a challenge that plagues a variety of industries across the nation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that as of mid-2024, the U.S. has 8.7 million job openings and 6.4 million unemployed workers. 

In addition to nearly 6.5 million eligible workers not participating in the workforce, these numbers show that the country simply doesn’t have enough workers to fill the open positions. 

Fewer Workers, More Job Openings

Even if every eligible unemployed worker in the U.S. took a job, there would still be 1.7 million empty positions. In other words, the demand for labor in the U.S. exceeds the number of residents.

The Chamber of Commerce notes that despite a steady post-pandemic increase in job openings and workforce participation, the data shows that overall labor force participation remains lower than it was before the pandemic. 

Furthermore, the trend of the past few decades shows a steady decrease in U.S. workforce participation — and this trend is expected to continue into the coming years. Law firm leaders shouldn’t expect to see relief any time soon when it comes to finding and retaining the skilled workers who can help a law firm thrive

How the U.S. Worker Crisis Is Harming Your Law Firm

When businesses can’t find the workers they need, they suffer. Across every sector and industry, productivity falters. Instead of growing, businesses are forced to remain the same size or, in many cases, downsize. The specific challenges brought about by the worker shortage vary by industry. This means U.S. law firms face unique challenges because of the national labor crisis.

The worker shortage doesn’t have much impact on individuals’ legal issues. Labor shortage or not, people are still getting divorced, filing personal injury claims, and violating regulatory compliance laws. On the one hand, it’s good news for law firms that the worker shortage isn’t hurting the potential for new clients. On the other, a lack of qualified, competent workers brings risks that can harm a firm’s results and reputation. 

Quality of Work

One of the most pressing concerns law firms face is the potential for a decline in quality of work. When law firm employees are undertrained or unskilled, it puts at risk the quality of the work being done on client cases. This naturally leads to dissatisfied clients. In turn, this can harm a law firm’s reputation and lead to fewer new clients coming in the door. 


A law firm is a business. A firm generally wants to see a certain number of new clients coming in on a regular basis. While there’s no shortage of potential clients who need legal representation, a law firm with too many open positions is left struggling to manage its caseload. 

Firms may find themselves forced to turn away new clients or struggling under a current caseload. When a law firm’s employees are stretched too thin, both quality and morale suffer as a result.

Work-Life Balance

When new workers can’t be found, the current ones are expected to shoulder the burden. Every member of the law firm staff feels the pressure when there’s too much work and not enough hands on deck. This leads to low morale and chronic stress. Everyone’s work-life balance takes a hit when a few are left doing the work of many.

Insulating Your Law Firm From Worker Desert Risks

The U.S. worker shortage is only expected to grow worse. A law firm can best protect itself by recognizing this national issue and taking steps to mitigate the risk of the worker shortage negatively impacting the firm’s size, quality, and reputation.

Alternate Roles

Whether you’re looking for a new associate, a paralegal, or a staff bookkeeper, it can be difficult to find eligible, skilled candidates for the role. You might find you have little response to job postings, or the response you do have may leave you unimpressed. 

One way to keep your firm running smoothly is to consider introducing or expanding alternate roles. Internships and apprenticeships are increasing in popularity as businesses in all sectors struggle to fill positions. Offering internships to recent graduates or those seeking a career change is one way to attract eager workers to your firm.

In-House Training

When the applicant pool is small, you’re often left having to choose between sub-par employees or none at all. One option is to rethink your firm’s current onboarding process, setting standards for specific roles and incorporating in-house job training and mentoring to ensure that less-than-ideal new hires are capable of effective performance.  

When you don’t have the time or energy to pour into restructuring or training new hires, a legal staffing agency can help streamline the process of finding skilled professionals who have proven experience in the legal field. When you use a reputable legal staffing agency, you know the workers being sent your way will be an asset rather than a further drain on your resources.

Woven Legal is a legal staffing agency. We offer subscription-based support to law firms and attorneys in need of paralegals, legal assistants, IOLTA bookkeepers, and client intake specialists. We match you with the legal contractor your firm needs, and you have the option of purchasing 10 to 40 hours of support a week. The national worker shortage isn’t going away, but Woven Legal can help reduce the strain on your firm’s resources. Book a discovery call today.



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