Fall Recruiting for Summer Programs: How Much Is Enough? And Has That Changed?

NALP Bulletin, August 2017

With summer programs done and fall recruiting in progress, the question of how to achieve a target size for the summer 2018 program may come up. NALP research has long documented summer program sizes and outcomes, and the level of fall recruiting activity for 2Ls and those outcomes, in the annual Perspectives on Law Student Recruiting reports. So we know, for example, that offer acceptance rates rose to close to or above 40% during the recession, compared to about 30% in more prosperous times. Likewise, recruiting volumes, measured by callback invitations, have gone up and down.

But there is an additional question that NALP's research can answer — that is, how many callback interviews are needed to result in one accepted offer for the summer program? This question was explored in a July 2015 NALP Bulletin column, and in fact the answer remains the same as reported in that earlier column: a surprisingly steady number, even as recruiting volumes, acceptance rates, and summer class sizes have varied. As shown in the table below, which compiles a selection of fall recruiting measures for the 18 most recent recruiting seasons (and a period which also includes a wide variety of economic conditions), the number of callback interviews needed to result in one accepted offer has, with few exceptions, been in the 5-6 range.

Of course, these figures are averages, and reflect survey responses for each year across a range of firm sizes, but nonetheless they offer a metric that has been remarkably stable. And although acceptance rates vary by firm size, with the aggregate acceptance rate generally higher at smaller firms, the ratio in fall 2016 varied only from 5.1 to 5.7, with figures of 5.6 or 5.7 in firms of more than 250 lawyers.

As further evidence of the stability of this measure, one can compare it to the number of jobs in firms of more than 100 lawyers taken by new graduates — an approximate proxy for the total number of summer associates recruited two years prior — for the class year with the largest such number and more recent classes with a smaller number. For example, Class of 2008 grads took almost 8,500 jobs in firms of this size; during the fall of 2006 when these grads would have been recruited for the summer program, the ratio was 5.7. The Class of 2013 found about 2,400 fewer such jobs, yet during fall 2011 recruiting, the ratio was 5.8. Preliminary figures for the Class of 2016 suggest that the number of such jobs was similar to that for the Class of 2013, as was the ratio for recruiting two years prior.


Table 1. Selected Measures of Fall Recruiting for Summer Programs

Recruiting During Fall: Number of Callback Invitations % of Callback Invitations Accepted % of Offers Accepted # of Callback Interviews Needed
to Result in One Accepted Offer
Median Average
2016 38 94 76.9% 33.2% 5.7
2015 39 92 77.5 32.7 5.7
2014 35 87 77.2 33.8 5.7
2013 30 74 78.1 35.4 6.0
2012 30 58 79.2 38.2 5.9
2011 33 61 77.5 37.1 5.8
2010 29 57 80.9 40.4 6.2
2009 30 53 83.5 42.8 6.4
2008 40 86 73.9 32.5 6.6
2007 46 93 72.2 29.1 5.7
2006 42 82 72.7 28.8 5.7
2005 48 86 72.3 30.3 5.5
2004 42 82 75.8 31.2 5.7
2003 37 74 77.7 31.4 6.0
2002 33 60 78.5 35.1 5.7
2001 36 66 77.0 34.9 5.6
2000 55 95 73.0 31.0 5.2
1999 53 87 74.7 29.0 5.4

Source: NALP, Perspectives on Law Student Recruiting, 1999-2016, and additional compilations.

National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP®), 1220 19th Street NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20036-2405, (202) 835-1001 info@nalp.org, © Copyright 2019 NALP

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