The UK's top 25 law firms hired more than 2,000 people in 2009-10, fewer than they made redundant during the downturn.
This continuing caution is evident in the recruitment practices of Slaughter and May - while it hired 78 people, these were support staff and associates, rather than partners, reports the Lawyer.
Paul Olney, Slaughter and May's practice partner, said: "We've not put a freeze on hiring, but in this still uncertain time, we'd only want to hire where we need to add resources."
The two highest hiring law firms were Irwin Mitchell and Eversheds, hiring 414 and 293 people respectively.
But Eversheds HR director Angus MacGregor said most of these hires were due to a high churn rate, or a reflection of the firm's recent upgrading of its IT and finance functions.
Other law firms are benefiting from the increased number of experienced partners now on the market.
Neville Eisenberg, managing partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner, said: "The recession provided us with more opportunities to hire leading individuals, and in doing so we've propelled our strategy forward."