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Fewer Summer Hires for Big Law Firms
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This year’s batch of summer interns had fewer opportunities to choose from at large law firms. This year’s positions were fewer compared to last year, where there were more availabilities to become summer associates according to the Summer Hiring Survey on AmericanLawyer.com. 116 firms responded to the survey’s most relevant questions, while ultimately the survey showed that the entire summer intern size was down by 3.4 percent.

Head recruiters at top firms attributed the decline in summer positions for interns to the “unpredictability built into the summer hiring routine” that firms rely on. Ultimately, an internship today is an open job position reflecting a firm’s growth a year or so down the line. Peter Kazanoff, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett commented, “its pretty hard to target an exact number that you think you will need two years down the road. A single consideration would be that before the down trend of this current economic cycle or megacycle (as economists may give their back and forth in nomenclature), intern positions were rather plentiful, and future estimations were positive.  Firms have always been able to absorb interns from the summer batch until recently, but that reality is not one that firms are addressing I’ve noticed.” American Lawyer noted that triple digit intern batches were more common, where this year a specific intern batch shrunk by around 30 percent.

  
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As far as the change in intern management and recruitment dynamics is concerned, some firms noted that having armies of interns isn’t really going to help the firm. Patton Boggs usually has a rather small intern class. While Schiff Hardin managing partner Ronald Safer considers that rather than two or three dozen interns, the best situation they find themselves following will be following a rather smaller intern batch, looking for individuals with a good fit. So long as the legal industry remains in the doldrums, interns will have to expect firms to be rather conservative with their hiring estimates. The economic uptick is slowly happening, and this is the new normal.



 

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