Legal Summer Jobs Gaining Steam
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Administrators from law schools across the country claim that the summer hiring slump for law students should be complete. They note the added litigation and transaction work for the previous year as well as higher revenue predictions for 2012. This news is forcing some law firms to reconfigure their plans for summer hiring, according to Paula Alvary, who is the principal for Hoffman Alvary. Alvary provides advisement for law firms when it comes to management and other strategies.

A study of hiring in 2011 saw that law firms were starting to hire law students for summer jobs once again.


“Firms are making a very, very cautious return to summer hiring,” said Alvary. “They are treading carefully, but they don’t want to be caught short two to three years from now.”

Douglas Rush, a Saint Louis University education professor, said that law students should not expect a massive return to the hiring numbers from before the recession.

“Firms are again starting to hire for summer positions, though not in the numbers they did before the recession,” Rush said.

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The American Lawyer released a survey for law-firm hiring in August. The survey shows that there is a 25 percent increase in the average class size at law firms for the summer, which is an increase over the numbers from 2010.

New York University School of Law claims that close to 70 percent of its students entering their third year at the school were able to acquire summer positions in 2011. This is an increase of 15 percent since 2010.

“Top-end firms continue to rely heavily on summer associate programs, but mid-level firms are reassessing their processes for training lawyers,” Alvary explained. “There’s a differentiation in the market.”

Jobs in the summer for law students previously were viewed as getting students in the door for possible permanent jobs upon graduation. These jobs became much tougher to come by once the recession hit, even for those studying at the country’s top-tier law schools. The reason for this was that most law firms cut their summer programs to help save money and possibly prevent the layoff of full-time associates.

The 2009 and 2010 summers saw the largest decline in summer jobs. The top 100 firms offered just over 6,000 summer jobs in 2009. In 2010, the same firms offered only 3,200 summer jobs.

“The impact of 2008’s financial crisis wasn’t really felt at law schools until the following year. Students interviewing in 2009 for summer associate jobs in 2010 … were hit the hardest,” said Irene Dorzback. Dorzback is the assistant dean of career services at New York University.

The assistant dean for career services at Harvard Law, Mark Weber, said the following:

“We have very good employment numbers, but the jobs didn’t fall into anyone’s lap. Students had to work harder and expand the scope of their searches. So, many landed (summer associate) work at firms, but was it at the firm they wanted, in the location they wanted, doing type work they wanted to do?”


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