While demand for most legal services has declined because of the recession, labor and employment work increased by nearly five percent during the second quarter of this year, according to survey of the nation’s 135 largest law firms by the Hildebrandt Institute’s Peer Monitor Index.

Employment law actually has been helped by the economic downturn because high unemployment pushes many laid-off workers to sue their former bosses over workplace-related claims, resulting in more work for law firms that represent companies.

“In most jurisdictions, employment is at-will,” said Constantinos Panagopoulos, a litigation partner in Ballard Spahr’s Washington, D.C. office. “You can be let go for any reason, or no reason, so the only remedy most employees have is to make a claim of employment discrimination. That’s why you’re seeing a broader uptick in that area. That results in more lawyers being hired to defend those lawsuits.”