The Number of Summer Associate Positions is Increasing
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Data shows that summer associate hiring is exceeding pre-recession rates.

Summary: Summer hiring continues to increase, a great sign for law students across the country.

According to the National Law Journal, next summer’s group of summer associates is slated to be the largest group since 2009, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP).


On-campus recruiting increased nationally during the fall of 2014. Firms interviewed and hired second-year law students, or 2Ls, to work in their offices as summer associates. The year 2014 was the fifth year in a row that hiring rose after it sharply declined after the 2008 financial crisis. The American Lawyer adds that big law firms should continue seeing growth in 2015.

However, the recruiting was not equal across the board. Just over half of the law firms reported offering more summer associate positions than they did in 2013. Of these firms, 14 percent increased the number of hires from 2013 levels by more than 10.

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Around 35 percent of law firms made fewer offers. James Leipold, the executive director of NALP, said, “During the last couple of years we have seen some bobbling numbers in the markers that describe law student recruiting volumes. But this past fall, for the first time since the recession, we see some clear markers of recovery. Nonetheless, just as we are seeing some separation in law firm financial results, we are seeing some law firms’ summer programs increasing in size at the same time that others’ programs are continuing to shrink, while many are maintaining historically small programs.”

According to the NALP, firms averaged 35 summer associate offers. In 2013, firms averaged 27 offers. The firms’ median number of summer associate offers rose from 8 to 9.5, and a little more than half of all callback interviewed resulted in job offers.

Boston law firms reported decreased summer associate hiring in 2014.

The increasing demand for legal work has triggered additional summer associate recruiting, according to Leipold. He predicts that this is a trend that will continue into 2016. Client pressure to control legal expenses will cause the market to remain diverse, with some firms hiring more associates and some hiring less.

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For those law students who did work as summer associates over 2014, the data revealed good news: over 93 percent of these associates received permanent job offers. This was higher than the summer of 2007, which previously reported the highest rate before the recession. However, not all average and median summer associate numbers are at pre-recession levels.

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Leipold explained, “In general, law firms remain cautious in their first-year hiring but in some sectors that hiring is once again becoming aggressive—particularly in the race for perceived top talent, driven perhaps in part by some anxiety that smaller entering law school classes going forward will mean a slimmer talent pool to be divided amongst competitors. Certainly the industry continues to experience change at a breakneck pace, and it is hard to look very far ahead with any confidence, but it seems pretty clear that the summer and fall recruiting season that is shaping up for 2015 will be one of the most competitive we have seen in some time.”

Source: National Law Journal

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