Selected Findings from NALP's Law Student Survey — Insights into Student Decision-Making

NALP Bulletin, February 2015

Last fall 38 U.S. law schools agreed to participate in NALP's Survey of Law Students Who Interviewed with Law Firms for a Summer 2015 Position. Collectively these schools garnered responses from 1,295 current second-year law students and represent a broad spectrum of schools across the country: large and small, public and private, and regional and national.

Selected findings are presented here, focusing on perhaps the most fundamental questions of how students make decisions about which firms to bid on for screening interviews and about which offer to accept if more than one was received.

  • Students most frequently cited input from friends/acquaintances/classmates/alumni as a resource for deciding which employers to bid on for screening interviews, followed by Vault rankings and the NALP Directory of Legal Employers. Employer websites also played a role, but employer receptions/events were relatively unimportant.

  • As to factors influencing the decision, office location was the most frequently cited — by almost three-quarters of respondents — followed by firm culture and specific practice area strengths. No other factors came close.

  • When it came to making a decision between two (or more) competing offers for summer employment, office location and specific practice area strengths still played a role, but the people met during the callback interview were the leading factor, followed by reputation or prestige of the firm.

  • Other aspects of the firm, such as commitment to diversity and pro bono, training opportunities, and even bottom-line factors such as compensation and firm financials, played minor roles in deciding among competing offers.


Table 1. Resources Influencing Decisions about Which Employers to Apply to for Screening Interviews

Resource Percent of Respondents
Input from friends/acquaintances/classmates/alumni 51.0%
Vault rankings 47.8
NALP Directory of Legal Employers 2.2
Chambers Guides 39.5
Employer's website 37.1
Information received from my career services office 26.7
Information gathered at an employer reception/event 10.4
Other (please specify) 8.2
Am Law rankings 7.3
HRC's Corporate Equality Index 0.8

Note: All percentages are based on 1,295 respondents. Since respondents could choose up to three resources, percentages add to more than 100. Among "other" resources specified, the top three were Above the Law, Top-Law-Schools.com (discussion forum), and US News & World Report.


Table 2. Factors Influencing Decisions about Which Employers to Apply to for Screening Interviews for a 2L Summer 2015 Job

Factor Percent of Respondents
Office location 72.5%
Firm culture 61.5
Specific practice area strengths 60.2
Firm's reputation on campus 29.7
Training opportunities 12.3
Alumni at the firm 10.8
Firm's participation on campus in events and receptions 9.3
Firm's commitment to diversity 8.0
Firm's commitment to pro bono 8.2
Other (please specify) 6.2

Note: All percentages are based on 1,295 respondents. Since respondents could choose up to three factors, percentages add to more than 100. Among "other" factors specified, the top three were firm reputation, office or firm size, and summer class size.


Table 3. Factors or Influences in the Decision on Which Offer to Accept

Influence or factor Percent of Respondents
The people I met during interviews 57.4%
Reputation or prestige of firm 52.1
Specific practice area strengths 39.0
An intangible feeling 38.2
Office location 33.5
Compensation/benefits package 16.4
Callback or sell dinner/event 13.1
Training opportunities 8.1
Other (please specify) 6.0
Firm commitment to diversity 5.2
Firm commitment to pro bono 4.9
Firm financials, e.g., profits per partner 3.8
Scholarship/bonus 0.6

Note: All percentages are based on 794 respondents. Since respondents could choose up to three factors, percentages add to more than 100. Among "other" factors specified, firm culture was the most commonly mentioned. No other themes emerged.

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