Despite the gloomy outlook for legal services because of the poor economy, labor and employment lawyers have seen their business increase in recent months. A survey by Hildebrandt Consulting confirmed that trend in its recent survey, which found that demand for employment lawyers increased by 4.7 percent during the second quarter of 2012.

The uptick was cause by several factors, including more aggressive enforcement by the National Labor Relations Board and an increase in claims filed by employees with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

David S. Fryman, Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group, said there has also been nonstop growth in wage-and-hour lawsuits by employers seeking more money for overtime hours. A growing number of laid-off workers also have been hiring lawyers to challenge severance and benefits packages.

“I think plaintiff lawyers have discovered this as an alternative to discrimination cases,” Mr. Fryman said.