Law Firms

Some 2010 Summer Associate Programs Are Being Axed or Scaled Back

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The summer of 2010 is likely to be a tough one for law students hoping for a summer associate position.

Some law firms are considering further rollbacks in their summer associate programs, and at least one is canceling its 2010 program, in most if not all of its offices, the Recorder reports.

Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold decided against hiring 2010 summer associates in most or all of its offices because of uncertainty whether the firm would be able to offer them permanent jobs at graduation, the story says.

Partner Steven Di Saia, who founded Sedgwick’s summer associate program, told the Recorder it would be unfair to hire students given the uncertainty. “What I remember very distinctly is students rely on these jobs,” he said. “If they’re going to be a summer clerk, there has to be a reasonable expectation that they can be hired as associates.”

Meanwhile, partners at 350-lawyer Gordon & Rees are weighing whether to ax its summer associate program. Managing partner Dion Cominos said the firm is evaluating whether it makes more sense to hire new lawyers laterally rather than directly from law schools. Contract lawyers are also playing a bigger role, he said. “The game has changed, and we’re just looking at how this program fits into that,” he told the Recorder.

Meanwhile, one California law school interviewed by the Recorder reported that, so far, fewer law firms are signing up for on-campus interviews in the fall. Sari Zimmerman, the career office director at the University of California Hastings College of the Law noted a significant drop in law firm interest but said that could change before registration closes.

Many law firms already reduced summer associate programs in 2009, in some cases cutting the number of new hires by 30 to 50 percent, according to the National Association of Law Placement.

“There will definitely be a lot of people who have different jobs from what they expected to have,” Zimmerman said of the 2010 summer associate candidates. “The pipeline to larger firm practice will be narrower.”

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