Sorry to jump in on this conversation, but I have a small insight into this problem. I work in the litigation department at a big firm (for St. Louis, so take that for what it's worth) and the new associates as well as some older ones have been begging the paralegal I work with to give them work. She has over a million pages of documents that have to be reviewed for a big case and they keep asking her to give them some of the documents, since it's billable and they have nothing else to do/bill. She gives each a couple thousand to start, but they call her at least twice a week asking for more. She actually called an older associate to ask if she could take some of his and give them to the newbies, and he said no he needed them.
From my experience, the economy tanking is not making litigation busier. What I've seen is more cases settle than normal. Big business, who are worried about money, are just settling these cases so they don't have to pay the huge legal bills...and trust me, those bills are HUGE. If these cases go to trial the legal bill is over a million dollars for that month (since there's 12 lawyers working on the same case). They figure they'll just settle for that amount and same themselves the trouble.