Is Law Firm Hiring Making a Rebound?

by Vault Law Editors | March 14, 2011

  • My Vault

Last week’s news that legal jobs were down in February while other industries showed upward progress probably made you want to hug a fluffy pillow and whimper, “why me?” This week brings some news that may take some of the whimper out of your day: entry-level law firm hiring is actually up according to NALP’s recent Perspectives on Fall 2010 Law Student Recruiting. The report revealed the following encouraging statistics:

•The entry-level offer rate for summer associates increased to 87.4 percent in 2010 from 69.3 percent in 2009.
•Another significant jump occurred in 3L recruiting rates—15 percent of law firms interviewed 3Ls, a 12 percent increase from 2009.
•The median number of 2L summer associate offers rose from 7 in 2009 to 9 in 2010 and the average number of summer associate offers rose from 16 in 2009 to 19 in 2010.
•The percentage of 2L interviews resulting in summer associate offers increased from 36.4 in 2009 to 40.6 in 2010.

Of course, there is more to the picture than these positive numbers. According to NALP’s survey, summer associate class sizes dropped in 2010 with the average class size at 8 in 2010—the average class size had been 12 in 2009 and 13 in 2008 and 2007. Smaller class sizes may allow firms to hand out offers to higher percentages of summer associates. As NALP points out, “[t]he fact that the offer rate recovered compared with 2009 must be viewed in the context of much smaller class sizes.”

And while most of these numbers are great improvements from 2009’s statistics, they’re still below the numbers from the boom years. For example, the entry-level offer rate in 2007 was 92.8 percent, 42 percent of law firms interviewed 3Ls in 2007, the median number of 2L summer associate offers in 2007 was 15, the average number of 2L summer associate offers was 39 in 2007 and the percentage of 2L interviews resulting in summer associate offers in 2007 was 60 percent.

Also, while the percentage of interviews resulting in an offer increased in 2010, it is unclear how many interviews were performed in 2010 compared to prior years (the report covers the number of schools visited but not the number of actual interviews performed). If firms are conducting fewer interviews, this increased rate is less impressive.

I’m not trying to be a downer. These statistics are a positive sign for an industry in desparate need of good employment news. But we’re still a long way off from the glory days of several years ago. And as the legal industry redefines itself, we may never get back to that place. But at least we’re shuffling forward.

NALP Report
ABA Journal Source

Read More:
Legal Jobs Down in February
Competition, Innovation, and Efficiency Mark the Future of the Legal Industry

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Filed Under: Law

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