NALP Pulse Surveys Find Widespread Changes to Summer Programs and OCI

NALP Bulletin, August 2020

In May, NALP administered the first of a series of short "pulse" surveys to legal employers and law schools to learn more about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. legal employers, law schools, and JD students. These surveys were designed to quantify the rapidly evolving changes occurring in the industry. This article will highlight some of the key findings from these surveys.

Legal Employer Key Findings:

  • As of the end of May, the overwhelming majority of offices (86%) that originally planned to host a 2020 summer program were still planning to host one. However, as seen in Table 1, small firms of 100 or fewer attorneys, large offices of more than 500 attorneys, and offices in the Southeast were most likely to commit to still hosting a summer program. And all the responding offices in the cities of Houston, Kansas City, Denver, and the Silicon Valley were still hosting their summer programs.

  • While we know from NALP's Perspectives on 2019 Law Student Recruiting report that 10 weeks was the most popular summer program length in 2019 (and the average length was 9.7 weeks), nearly two-thirds (64%) of responding offices reported that their summer program would be five to six weeks in length in 2020, and just five percent of offices planned to host a summer program that was more than eight weeks in length. As seen in Table 2, offices in the Midwest were more likely than other offices to report a program length of less than five weeks and offices of more than 500 attorneys were more likely than other offices to report a program length of more than six weeks.

  • The majority (55%) of offices intended to host a 100% virtual 2020 summer program, 40% intended to host a hybrid model if possible (e.g., a combination of in-person and virtual), and a small number (5%), intended to have an entirely in-person program. Entirely virtual programs were most popular in the Mid-Atlantic (66%) and Northeast (65%) regions, which are home to some of the cities that have been hardest hit from the pandemic. Offices in the Midwest were most likely to report entirely in-person programs (12%). (See Chart 1.)

  • For those 2020 summer programs that will be fully or partially remote, nearly half (47%) of offices had not yet determined the anticipated number of hours per week that summer associates will work during the remote portion of the program. For those that have decided, three-quarters (75%) anticipate that summer associates will work 31-40 hours per week remotely. Large offices of more than 500 attorneys were most likely to have determined the number of hours that their summer associates would be working.

  • For offices that have canceled their summer programs, 86% made offers to at least some of their 2Ls to return after graduation for full-time employment as associates, 76% of those that originally intended to have 1Ls in their program made offers to at least some of their 1Ls to return for an additional summer, and 84% offered financial compensation to students impacted by these canceled summer programs. Less than half (47%) helped students find alternative options for practical skills development. Regionally, offices in the Northeast were most likely to make offers to 2Ls to return as associates and to offer financial compensation, while offices in the Midwest were least likely to make offers to 2Ls to return as associates, and offices in the Southeast were least likely to provide financial compensation.

  • About 11% of offices reported that there had been furloughs or layoffs of talent, recruiting, professional development, or diversity and inclusion staff. Layoffs or furloughs were nonexistent for responding offices in smaller firms of 100 or fewer attorneys and large offices of more than 500 attorneys. Regionally, layoffs or furloughs were most common in the Midwest. Responding offices in the cities of Wilmington, DE, Houston, TX, the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area in Florida, Denver, CO, and San Diego and San Francisco, CA reported no layoffs or furloughs. (See Table 3.)


Law School Key Findings:

  • Overall, by the end of May about half of schools (51%) had established 2L OCI dates for recruiting the Class of 2022 for summer 2021 programs. Public schools were more likely to have already established their OCI dates (60%), as well as those in the Mid-Atlantic region (68%), and those with a JD enrollment size of over 750 students (75%).

  • Of those schools that had established 2L OCI dates, the vast majority (85%) reported having changed their OCI dates. Schools in the Mid-Atlantic region (93%), those with a JD enrollment size of over 750 students (100%), and those where more than half of the Class of 2019 received their jobs via OCI (89%) were most likely to have changed their OCI dates.

  • For those schools that have changed their OCI dates (which were all originally scheduled to begin in July or August 2020), most (71%) are now scheduled to begin in January 2021, with February 2021 being the second-most highly reported start month (21%). Schools in the Mid-Atlantic region (93%) and those where more than half of the Class of 2019 received their jobs via OCI (100%) reported the highest instances of January OCI start dates. (See Table 4.)

  • Most schools (83%) reported that fewer than one-quarter of their Class of 2021 students who had 2020 summer opportunities lined up had these opportunities revoked.

  • Nearly all schools (95%) reported that they provided their students with additional opportunities to obtain practical skills due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with research opportunities (89%) being the most frequently reported.


The full report from the May pulse surveys, as well as additional pulse surveys, can be accessed from the 2020 Pulse Surveys page.


Table 1. Percentage of Offices Still Planning to Host a Summer Program in 2020
(For those schools with OCI dates that have changed)

Legal Employers Subset % of Offices Still Hosting a Summer Program Number of Offices
All Offices 85.6 359
By Firm Size (Number of Attorneys)
100 or Fewer 94.7 19
101-250 79.6 49
251-500 66.7 75
501-700 93.5 46
701+ 92.8 167
By Office Size (Number of Attorneys)
25 or Fewer 86.1 36
26-50 80.7 57
51-100 90.1 101
101-250 78.3 106
251-500 97.4 39
501+ 100.0 13
By Region and City
Northeast 83.6 73
Boston, MA 73.3 15
New York, NY 86.8 53
Mid-Atlantic 85.5 62
Philadelphia, PA 75.0 8
Washington, DC/Northern VA 91.7 36
Southeast 90.1 71
Atlanta, GA 61.5 13
Dallas, TX 92.3 13
Houston, TX 100.0 15
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach, FL 88.9 9
Midwest 81.0 63
Chicago, IL 81.8 22
Indianapolis, IN 60.0 5
Kansas City, MO 100.0 6
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 80.0 10
West/Rocky Mountain 88.0 83
Denver, CO 100.0 7
Los Angeles, CA 90.5 21
Orange County, CA 60.0 5
San Francisco, CA 93.3 15
Seattle, WA 80.0 5
Silicon Valley, CA 100.0 12


Table 2. Length of 2020 Summer Programs (in percentages of offices reporting)

Legal Employers Subset Less than 4 Weeks (%) 4 Weeks (%) 5-6 Weeks (%) 7-8 Weeks (%) More than 8 Weeks (%) Total Number of Offices
All Offices 8.0 13.0 64.5 9.6 5.0 301
By Firm Size (Number of Attorneys)
100 or Fewer 0.0 11.1 55.6 11.1 22.2 18
101-250 0.0 21.1 55.3 18.4 5.3 38
251-500 2.0 12.2 71.4 10.2 4.1 49
501-700 0.0 4.9 87.8 4.9 2.4 41
701+ 15.0 13.1 59.5 8.5 3.9 153
By Office Size (Number of Attorneys)
25 or Fewer 10.7 7.1 75.0 7.1 0.0 28
26-50 13.0 4.3 69.6 6.5 6.5 46
51-100 5.5 8.8 68.1 11.0 6.6 91
101-250 8.6 16.0 63.0 9.9 2.5 81
251-500 5.4 27.0 54.1 8.1 5.4 37
501+ 7.7 23.1 30.8 23.1 15.4 13
By Region and City
Northeast 5.1 8.5 71.2 5.1 10.2 59
Boston, MA 9.1 9.1 63.6 9.1 9.1 11
New York, NY 4.4 6.7 73.3 4.4 11.1 45
Mid-Atlantic 3.8 19.2 57.7 15.4 3.8 52
Philadelphia, PA 0.0 33.3 33.3 33.3 0.0 6
Washington, DC/Northern VA 3.0 18.2 60.6 12.1 6.1 33
Southeast 15.6 15.6 59.4 6.3 3.1 64
Atlanta, GA 12.5 12.5 62.5 0.0 12.5 8
Dallas, TX 25.0 0.0 66.7 8.3 0.0 12
Houston, TX 13.3 6.7 73.3 6.7 0.0 15
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach, FL 12.5 37.5 37.5 12.5 0.0 8
Midwest 4.1 26.5 49.0 16.3 4.1 49
Chicago, IL 11.8 17.6 58.8 11.8 0.0 17
Kansas City, MO 0.0 0.0 83.3 16.7 0.0 6
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 0.0 25.0 37.5 37.5 0.0 8
West/Rocky Mountain 9.6 1.4 76.7 8.2 4.1 73
Denver, CO 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 0.0 7
Los Angeles, CA 15.8 5.3 63.2 10.5 5.3 19
San Francisco, CA 7.1 0.0 64.3 14.3 14.3 14
Silicon Valley, CA 8.3 0.0 83.3 8.3 0.0 12


Table 3. Percentage of Offices Reporting Layoffs or Furloughs of Talent, Recruiting, Professional Development, or Diversity and Inclusion Staff

Legal Employers Subset % of Offices Reporting Layoffs or Furloughs Total Number of Offices
All Offices 10.5 381
By Firm Size (Number of Attorneys)
100 or Fewer 0.0 22
101-250 8.6 58
251-500 12.6 87
501-700 13.7 51
701+ 10.6 161
By Office Size (Number of Attorneys)
25 or Fewer 1.8 55
26-50 4.9 61
51-100 7.8 102
101-250 19.0 105
251-500 17.9 39
501+ 0.0 13
By Region and City
Northeast 6.6 76
Boston, MA 6.7 15
New York, NY 5.5 55
Mid-Atlantic 12.5 64
Philadelphia, PA 25.0 8
Washington, DC/Northern VA 8.6 35
Wilmington, DE 0.0 5
Southeast 7.8 77
Atlanta, GA 28.6 14
Dallas, TX 7.1 14
Houston, TX 0.0 15
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach, FL 0.0 9
Midwest 17.9 67
Chicago, IL 17.4 23
Indianapolis, IN 20.0 5
Kansas City, MO 50.0 6
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 27.3 11
West/Rocky Mountain 8.8 91
Denver, CO 0.0 7
Los Angeles, CA 9.5 21
Phoenix, AZ 20.0 5
San Diego, CA 0.0 6
San Francisco, CA 0.0 14
Seattle, WA 20.0 5
Silicon Valley, CA 7.7 13


Table 4. Percentage of Law Schools with 2L OCI Dates Scheduled for January and February 2021 (For those schools with OCI dates that have changed)

Law School Subset % Jan. 2021 % Feb. 2021 Total Number of Schools
All Schools 71.2 21.2 66
By Type of Institution
Public 74.2 22.6 31
Private 68.6 20.0 35
By Region
Northeast 90.0 0.0 10
Mid-Atlantic 92.9 7.1 14
Southeast 60.0 40.0 5
Midwest 52.6 36.8 19
West/Rocky Mountain 70.6 17.6 17
By Fall 2019 JD Enrollment Size
Fewer than 350 students 57.1 42.9 7
350-549 students 73.1 19.2 26
550-750 students 70.6 17.6 17
751+ students 73.3 20.0 15
By % of Class of 2019 Grads Receiving Job via OCI
25% or Less 69.8 23.3 43
26-50% 60.0 20.0 10
51% or More 100.0 0.0 8


Chart 1. Format of 2020 Summer Programs by Region (in percentages of offices)



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