On-Campus Recruiting Increased Slightly Again in 2011, But Summer Associate Classes Stay Small

Corrected: For two years in a row, on-campus recruiting at law schools has increased slightly, according to a new report by the legal career professionals group NALP.

Thirty-nine percent of law schools reported an increase of at least 5 percent in the number of employers on campus in the fall of 2011, while 29 percent reported either steady numbers, or an increase or a decrease of less than 5 percent, according to a NALP publication (PDF). A total of 141 law schools responded to the NALP survey.

Still, recruiting volume for 2011 remains below pre-recession level, according to a NALP press release. And law firms continue to keep summer associate class sizes just barely above recession-era lows. The average summer associate class remained at eight for the second year in a row, while the median size increased from four to five. (The results are based on responses by mostly large law firms. Eighty percent of the 251 responding firms had more than 250 lawyers.)

There is some good news for those able to snag a summer associate position: “Offer rates have returned to the highs seen before the recession as firms follow through with their stated intent to make offers to the majority of their summer associates when they can,” the press release says. The offer rate for summer associates in 2011 was 91.4 percent, an increase of four percentage points. The previous year, offer rates jumped 18 percentage points.

The press release quotes NALP executive director James Leipold, who adds a few words of caution. “This is not a hot recruiting market,” he said. “This sort of modest growth may well represent the best we can hope for with year on year comparisons going forward. I would anticipate volatility in the recruiting market for some time. For instance, 2012 is off to a slow start economically for law firms, and we may see that reflected in the recruiting numbers this August.”


Corrected on March 8 to state that 29 percent of the law schools reported either steady on-campus recruiting numbers, or an increase or a decrease of less than 5 percent. The revised article also includes the number of law schools responding to the NALP survey.

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