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Summer-associate recruiting stays mostly flat, but offer rates rise, NALP says

Posted Feb 19, 2014 11:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Law firms kept summer-associate class sizes small last year, though offer rates have recovered since the recession low of 69 percent.

The median summer associate class size for students set to graduate in 2014 was five for the third year in a row, according to a press release from the National Association for Law Placement. But the average increased from nine to 11, the highest level since 2009. The jump in the average, but not the median, suggests that there were “a few additional bigger summer programs in the mix,” the press release says.

Nearly 92 percent of these summer associates received job offers, “a huge change from the stark offer rate of only 69 percent measured in 2009” and only slightly lower than historic highs of 93 percent, the press release says. The full report is here (PDF).

Over half the reporting law firms said they also included first-year students from the class of 2015 in their summer associate programs last year. The median 2013 summer-associate class size for 1Ls was two and the average was three. Fifty-eight percent of these students received an offer to return for at least some of the summer 2014 program.

The NALP press release cites anecdotal reports that some law-firm recruiters feel they are competing fiercely for the same group of students, even though it’s a buyer’s market for law firms.

School representatives had the same impression. “A small percentage of the student body have all of the opportunities,” one school representative told NALP. “All employers end up wanting the same small group at the top of the class.”

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