There’s a decrease in signing bonuses for 2021 summer associates, new survey says

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Summer associates who recently wrapped up their work say they had ample networking opportunities, received clear instructions on assignments, and found the experience affirming. But few were offered signing bonuses, according to a survey released Monday by Law360 Pulse.

Titled Summer Associates Survey: Part 2 - A Partial Return to Normalcy for Summer Programs, the survey was conducted between June 29 and Aug. 9 and had a total of 751 respondents.

It follows a May survey, which focused on law students getting summer associate positions. Both surveys used the same respondents.

According to the September report, only 8% of participants received signing bonuses, and the firms offering signing bonuses most frequently were Morrison & Foerster; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Latham & Watkins; and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Also, 55% of respondents received an assurance that their firm would hire them—a 20 percentage point decrease compared to last year’s survey.

Regarding work experience, 87% of respondents reported that a firm’s investment and commitment in summer associates was apparent, and 86% said they had ample opportunities for networking and mentorships. Also, 94% reported that they received clear assignment instructions, and 96% said the summer associate experience gave them better insight about what law they want to practice.

Some survey questions focused on working during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 39% of respondents were based at home, while 27% did all the work in person. Also, 34% had positions that were partially in person. According to the survey, 60% of respondents summered at law firms that had vaccine requirements for being in the office.

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