NALP report shows historically high offer rate for summer associates; what's to come?
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Offer rates from summer associate programs reached a historic high of nearly 98% last year, according to a report by the National Association for Law Placement.
The acceptance rate remained at 88%, which was a historic high in 2018 and 2019 and well above the pre-recession norm of about 73% to 77%, according to a March 18 press release from NALP.
At the same time, law firms “continue to trim summer program size just slightly,” according to the NALP report, Perspectives on 2019 Law Student Recruiting. The information comes from NALP surveys of law schools and law firms at the end of the 2019 recruiting cycle.
The average summer associate class size decreased from 14 to 13, largely because of falling average class sizes at the largest law firms.
The average summer class size at law offices of firms with more than 700 lawyers was 18 last year, down from 19 in 2018, 20 in 2017, and 22 in 2016.
“What these data suggest is that in the more than 10 years following the Great Recession, law firms steadily rebuilt their summer programs and entry-level recruiting pipeline, but that regrowth has now definitively been capped,” the report says.
James Leipold, executive director of NALP, told Law.com that law firms are beginning to think about how they will handle summer associate programs if law firms continue to ask lawyers and employees to work remotely.
“I don’t think canceling summer programs is what’s going to happen,” Leipold said. “But I think if firms are still stuck in remote work, they’ll be thinking, ‘OK, what does that look like for a summer associate who has never worked here? How do we train them? How do we give them virtual assignments? How do we have social bonding when we can’t come into work?’”
Leipold said many economists think the United States could quickly recover after the novel coronavirus is contained. If so, there would be little impact on summer associate hiring and new lawyer hiring, he said.