Law Firm Summer Associate Hiring Plummets

    If you're currently in law school and are having trouble getting a summer associate position at a law firm, you're not alone. According to an article in Wednesday's ABA Journal, law firms have experienced a "44 percent drop in the number [of summer associates] hired this year." How is this affecting the law school and law job landscape?

    The Am Law Daily, reports the ABA, surveyed 114 law firms, and tallied the dismaying drop in summer hires. Although not all firms' numbers dropped, the overwhelming majority of firms saw their incoming summer associate classes cut considerably.

    In raw numbers, the largest drop came at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which hired 79 summer associates this year, compared to 223 last year, the story says. In percentages, the largest cut was at Ballard Spahr, which eliminated its summer program, followed by Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which cut its program by 81 percent. [ABA Journal]

    "Obviously we were in the midst of one of the greatest economic downturns in recent history last year," says Steven Sletten, chair of [Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher]'s firmwide hiring committee, commenting on the decrease. "We had to make adjustments on the margin and thought it was prudent to reduce the size of the summer program somewhat." He says he does not expect the size of next year's program to be dramatically different from this year's. [Am Law Daily]

    This "downsize" was expected by many law school administrators:

    Beth Moeller, the assistant dean for career services at UCLA School of Law, says she knew the summer of 2010 would be unusually slow when law firm recruiters started to cancel interview slots--and even entire summer programs--as early as spring 2009. UCLA has adapted by beefing up its outreach to government agencies and alumni as potential employers. [Am Law Daily]

    This drop in summer hiring translates to fewer permanent position offers by law firms, which in turn results in a higher chance of unemployment for law students upon graduation. ""I know that it used to be if you went to a Top Ten law school and if you were in the top three-fourths of the class, you had it made," Ropes & Gray law firm's Director of Legal Recruiting Helen Long told Am Law Daily. "I'm not sure that that's the case anymore."

    To view the results of Am Law Daily's survey of 114 law firms' summer associate numbers, click here.

    LET US KNOW: Are you a student currently in law school? Have you had trouble securing a summer associate position? What have you done to increase your chances of employment? How do you view the current situation?


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