Is Law Grad Hiring Improving?

The Wall Street Journal reported on some good news for recent law school graduates.

The job-offer rate for summer-associate programs is nearly back to pre-recession levels. "The job-offer rate for those lucky enough to have landed a summer job at a law firm in 2013 is nearly as high as it was before the financial crisis."

The WSJ post gives a good summary of the traditional path of summer associates to full-time associates. "Summer-associate programs are the traditional path to employment at big law firms. Students interview with dozens of firms in the late summer and early fall of their second year. Those who are selected spend the following summer working at a law firm in hopes of being offered a permanent position after they graduate."

But "[t]he recession put a crimp in that pipeline. Many firms, facing a collapse in demand for their services, scaled back hiring programs, and summer associates faced greater competition for permanent slots. Things are looking up for the class of 2014, [however] at least by some measures, according to figures released last week by the National Association for Law Placement, a nonprofit group that tracks legal employment figures. About 92% of law students who worked as summer associates last year received job offers. In 2007, before the financial crisis upended the legal profession, the offer rate was about 93%."

In 2012, 90% of summer associates received job offers, which was still a significant jump from 2009 when the job-offer rate hit a historic low at 69%.

The caveat to this is that although the job offer rate is improving, the summer-associate classes still remain small. And "[w]hile the job-offer rate is up for law students who spent the summer after their second year working at a law firm, things look a bit gloomier for third-year law students who lack that experience."

As a law student, if you can secure a summer-associate position, it is more likely to put you the traditional path to success. But it's great news to hear that numbers are improving.


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