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BigLaw Still Hiring Fewer Newbies; Second-Tier Grads Don’t Have a Prayer, Hiring Partner Says

Posted Jan 30, 2012 7:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Hiring and pay for new associates remain in the doldrums at many large law firms.

Firms that trimmed new associate classes by as much as half since 2008 are taking a cautious approach to hiring and holding the line on associate pay and bonuses, the Wall Street Journal reports. And those who do get hired have to work as many as 10 years before getting a chance at partnership.

Law firms hiring in this environment can afford to be picky. Bill Dantzler, a hiring partner at White & Case, told the newspaper that solid candidates who once had a chance of working in BigLaw will no longer make the cut. Those with lower class rankings or who come from lower-tier schools “wouldn’t have a prayer of getting in now,” he said.

White & Case plans to hire 60 new associates, compared to 90 to 100 new associates before the recession. "We don't have to have these armies of young associates,” Dantzler said. “It's good for the clients, it's good for everybody."

Meanwhile those who do get hired are holding on to their jobs. Before the recession, associate attrition stood at about 25 percent to 30 percent, the story says. At Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, the attrition rate has dropped to about 15 percent.

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