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Law Firms Delaying Start Dates for Summer Associates – Live Updates
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While summer associate season is around the corner, America’s top law firms seem to be in a full panic because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some firms postponing start dates others playing with the possibility of remote work, and some firms are still dragging their feet, waiting for some guidance before deciding to make a move that could impact the rest of their student employees’ lives.

At least four law firms are making a move, multiple news outlets reported. 

JD Journal is gathering the latest information about these programs to offer insight into which law firms are doing what.


April 2, 2020

Amid concerns over the pandemic, Cooley LLPVinson & Elkins LLPDLA Piper, and Sidley Austin LLP have all postponed their summer associate programs, delaying the start dates to at least June, Law360 reports.

California-based Cooley confirmed Thursday that it had deferred the start date of its program to June 15, shortening it from ten weeks to six. The Palo Alto firm accepted 102 summer associates this year. They will end their apprenticeships on July 24. 

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“The firm places paramount importance on the health and safety of its people, clients, and communities,” a spokesperson for Cooley said in a statement to Law360. “We are confident that, even with a six-week schedule, our summer associates will benefit from high-quality assignments and be able to fully experience the firm’s unique culture.”

On the heels of Cooley’s decision, two more Big Law firms, Vinson & Elkins and DLA Piper have informed summer associate they won’t welcome their newest crop of potential talent until June 15.

“As we plan for the possibility that we will be serving our clients remotely into June and potentially beyond, it became clear to us that we will not be ready to welcome you into our offices on May 18, as originally planned,” hiring partner Steve Gill said in the email obtained by Law360.

The Houston based firm is informing its 100 summer associates now so they can plan in terms of travel and housing.

“It is our hope and intention that the summer associate program will occur, albeit with some appropriate modifications in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gill said.

Another BigLaw heavyweight, DLA Piper, is postponing its summer associate program until June 29 and ending it July 31.

“The health and safety of our people, including the summer associates who will join us in June and July, is our top priority as we weigh decisions regarding our programs and operations,” the firm said in a statement to Law360.

“Though the start date has been delayed, we still intend to provide a robust program with a thorough introduction to DLA Piper, our work, and our people,” DLA Piper said.

Sidley Austin is delaying the start of its program until at least June 1, a source told Law360. The start dates for each office will be flexible to accommodate the circumstances in the respective cities, the source said. The law firm will pay summer associates for the number of weeks mentioned in offer letters, according to a source who spoke with Above the Law.

Additionally one of America’s largest labor and employment law firms, FordHarrison told students in a letter obtained by Above the Law that it is canceling its summer program.

We have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 summer associate program as a result of the uncertainty and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 16, many FordHarrison offices have been operating remotely and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Relationship building and face-to-face interaction between lawyers and summer associates are essential to our recruiting process and the opportunity we committed to providing to you. Client demand for our services remains high, but it is very difficult to anticipate what the coming months may bring even when the on-site work resumes. Given this level of uncertainty, we determined we will not have the appropriate learning opportunities available to provide a meaningful summer associate experience.’ the letter reads.

April 7, 2020

Cahill Summer Associates Get Full Time Jobs as Program Suspended

As many Big Law firms rethink how to move forward with this year’s recruiting, Cahill Gordon & Reindel has announced it will cancel its 2020 summer associate program due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Bloomberg News reports.

However, Cahill’s 30 associates will be paid in full for the summer and all of them are receiving full-time job offers to join the firm after their graduation in 2021, the firm said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.

The associates can voluntarily partake in the firm’s pro bono program and, if conditions change and Cahill can safely host an in-person program for some portion of the summer, the firm will find an appropriate way to do so, the Wall Street firm said.

“We did this now because we wanted to alleviate concerns that our summer associates were expressing about securing housing in New York City for the summer, and we wanted to give them peace of mind that the firm is supporting them in this difficult moment,” the statement said.

“It’s great to see our lawyers step up to the challenge of working under these conditions. We are highly appreciative of all your efforts and we recognize how fortunate we are to have you as part of the firm,” the firm said.

April 8, 2020

Goodwin Goes Virtual For Shortened Summer Associate Program

The spread od COVID-19 is forcing law firms to think outside the box when it comes to ushering in new crops of talent. Goodwin Procter is changing its ten weeks summer associate program to a five-week, and shifting to an online program, Bloomberg Law reports.

The firm’s 2020 summer program will now begin on July 6, and instead of an in-person program, the associates will virtually participate in training, the firm said in an email to its incoming summer associates on Wednesday.

“Our decision to go forward with our summer program was driven by the importance we place on recruiting our next generation of lawyers and by our commitment to providing our summer associates with the best exposure to our lawyers and our culture during their 2L summer,” said the firm’s national hiring partner Emily Rapalino in an email to Bloomberg Law.

“We are excited to present our summer associates with a creative summer program in this new virtual format, and we are confident that our summer associates will gain true insight into Goodwin’s work and culture through our virtual program,” Rapalino said.

Goodwin is the latest law firm to announce changes to its summer associate program in recent days.

April 13, 2020

Pepper Hamilton, Troutman Sanders Cancel Summer Associate Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit Biglaw firms as Pepper Hamilton, and Troutman Sanders have both canceled summer associate programs and extended job offers to law students, Bloomberg law reports.

“This decision arises out of our conclusion that, given current and expected conditions, we cannot provide for a meaningful summer experience that allows our students to perform to their full potential,” a Pepper Hamilton spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.

The firm was supposed to start the associate program in May; instead, it will be providing financial assistance to summer associates, according to the statement.

In addition to financial assistance, both firms are extending offers to 3Ls who were supposed to partake in the summer associate program.

These law grads will receive offers after their graduation to sign on at the firms as full-time associates in the fall of 2021.

The firms will be also extending offers to rising 2Ls to participate in a summer associate program in 2021.

April 13, 2020

Davis Polk, Gibson Dunn Delay Summer Associate Programs

As many Biglaw firms rethink the key summer talent recruitment tool in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Davis Polk & Wardwell have both delayed the start of their summer associate programs, Bloomberg Law reports.

On April 9, Davis Polk informed its incoming summer class that it will delay the start of its summer program, which was scheduled to begin in May, evaluating alternatives in light of the pandemic.

“As we consider what is best for the entire Davis Polk community this summer, we want to reinforce the firm’s commitment to each of you, to the program and, importantly, our conviction as to the continued long-term growth of our firm,” the firm said in the email.

While the email didn’t offer details on the format or the timing of its recruiting program, the firm reassures its summer associates that it would compensate them for the number of weeks they originally indicated they would work. The Wall Street firm also plans to extend offers to each of its incoming talent to join the firm full-time after graduation.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has also delayed the start of its U.S. summer program to June 15, though the firm has not yet determined whether it will be an in-person or remote program, Bloomberg Law reports.

“Whether our summer associates join us in-person or remotely, we are committed to providing them with robust training and work opportunities in what is likely to be an unconventional program,” said Pearl Piatt, Gibson Dunn chief communications officer, in a Monday statement to Bloomberg Law.



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