An informal Financial Times survey of top London law firms has found fee-earning solicitors working up to 40% more chargeable hours since last month's terrorist attacks on the US.
Average fee earners were working at an annual rate of 2,000 chargeable hours, up from the usual 1,600.
Fears of a sharp economic downturn have spurred employers to cut costs. Official employment statistics show that the number of redundancies rose by an annual 14% in the three months to August, from 157,000 in the same period last year to 179,000.
The biggest jump in redundancies was in manufacturing. But other sectors, including telecommunications and financial services, contributed to the rise.
Investment managers, stockbrokers and analysts were also seeking help on termination packages.