Just how bad is it out there? The Labor Department said the number of unemployed lawyers jumped 66 percent last year to a 10-year high of 20,000. The first time this year that three consecutive business days passed without one of the nation's top law firms announcing job cuts came in mid-March, according to the Web site Lawshucks.com. They have counted 3,149 lawyer layoffs ¿ just in the big firms, just in the first three months of the year. The New York City Bar Association, for the first time in its more than 135 years, is offering career counseling services to lawyers between jobs. Law firms are delaying the hiring of final-year law students, who normally are brought on a year in advance of graduation. Law students graduating with jobs this spring are being paid to delay their start date. Some are being told there will be no work until later in the year, maybe in 2010. So many would-be lawyers are facing this situation that Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, a group that trains volunteers to provide free legal assistance to low income clients, held a "Deferred Associates Job Fair" in Newark, N.J., for graduates looking for temporary work while waiting for permanent jobs to come through.