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Hiring at Big Law Firms Increasing

Weil Gotshal

Major law firms are starting to ramp up their hiring of entry-level lawyers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Despite this, recent graduates are still finding it difficult to find jobs out of school.

Chaloea Williams, a graduate of the class of 2014 at Boston University School of Law, said, “There’s the idea that only the top 10% of the class is going to get the big-firm job.”

Williams will begin work at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in the fall.

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The National Association for Law Placement released data last week that shows 20.6 percent of 2013 law graduates found work in a firm that employs more than 500 lawyers.

Joseph Torres is the chairman of the hiring committee at Winston & Strawn LLP. Torres said, “The overall demand for legal services has certainly dropped at all levels, and incoming lawyers have not been excluded from that.”

William Fogg is the managing partner of the corporate department at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Fogg thinks the firm has returned to its pre-recession levels. Its first-year associate group is close to the same size as its class in 2009.

DLA Piper has moved in the opposite direction. The world’s largest law firm by revenue and lawyer headcount has dropped its summer class from 68 in 2009 to 34 this summer. Bingham McCutchen LLP, in Boston, has dropped its summer class by 69 percent from 2009.

Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP also cut its summer class, bringing in just 76 associates, which is half the number from 2009.

A spokesman from the firm said that this year “has been incredibly busy for us and we are actively hiring additional junior associates and planning for a larger summer-associate class next year.”

Some law firms are planning to cut back on their summer classes and then file in as needed by hiring associates from other law firms or recruiting law students in their third year of law school.

“There are a couple of prominent national firms that have contacted us about 3Ls because they did not have summer associate coverage,” said Tom Ksobiech, assistant dean for career services, at University of Alabama School of Law.

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