The NALP report released on Monday, Feb 11, 2013 observes that by and large 2012 was a flat year and law firms continued to limit hiring at entry levels. Though there was a slight overall gain in jobs, the headcount of employed lawyers still remains lower than pre-recession times. Campus recruitment was also low compared to 2011. However, as expected the growth and decline ranged across pockets of economic activity and markets than exhibiting a homogeneous trend.
The report mentions that over the last three years law firms have slightly increased their entry-level hiring but are exercising caution over recruiting new associates. Though the hiring was better than 2008 and 2009, it was certainly not better than 2011. Median and average number of offers made for summer associate positions has also gone down in 2013, including the percentage of positive interviews resulting in an offer.
However, law firms are continuing their recruiting activity and bringing in small classes of summer associates, though in lesser numbers. Not unexpectedly, given such a tight market, offer acceptance rate rose to a “historic high” at 85.5%.
James Leipold, the Executive Director of NALP said, “We have seen some faltering in recruiting volumes this past fall, and that reflects the continuing faltering in the larger legal economy.” Leipold thinks globalization and changes in market dynamics are having an effect.
He said, “As law firms battle for market share and compete within a global marketplace that is driving the price of legal services down, law firms continue to be cautious about bringing in more lawyers than they can confidently keep busy. I would expect flat and faltering to be characteristics of the entry-level law firm hiring market going forward, at least for the short and even medium term. Multiple experts have made the case that the legal market is not likely to return to pre-2007 levels, and the recruiting environment reflects that reality.”