What Share of 2L Summer Program Offers and Acceptances Are a Result of Precruiting?

NALP Bulletin+
October 2021

NALP's latest analysis from the Survey of Legal Employers on 2020-21 Recruiting shows that the percentage of all offers that were early offers for 2L summer programs grew for the fifth year in a row since NALP first began tracking these data in fall 2015. Early offers accounted for 10.5% of all summer 2021 program offers made during the 2020-21 recruiting cycle that concluded in spring 2021 rather than fall 2020 due to changes in the timing of OCI as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, 42% of employers made early offers for 2L summer 2021 programs.

For those offices that made early offers for summer 2021 programs, Table 1 shows that nationwide, about 15% of all offers and 20% of acceptances were a result of this precruiting activity. Precruiting refers to the practice of law firms recruiting students for summer positions prior to the law school's official on-campus interviewing (OCI) program. By firm size, employers of 250 or fewer lawyers reported the highest share of their offers and acceptances coming from precruiting, at 20.7% and 31.7%, respectively. On a regional basis, while early recruiting offer volume was highest in the Northeast — and more specifically in New York City as indicated by the median and average number of early offers in the table — the percentages of offers and acceptances filled through early OCI activity in the Northeast were slightly below the national figures. This may seem counterintuitive, but the Northeast, by far, also had the highest overall total offer volume. Overall, 4,077 out of a total of 10,222 offers (39.9%) came from Northeast offices, with New York City alone accounting for 3,811 or 37.3% of all offers. Regionally, offices in the Southeast had the highest proportion of early offers (31.2%) and acceptances (35.5%), although their early offer volume was the second-lowest by region as measured by the median and average.

Table 2 presents information on the percentage of all offers that were early offers on a per-office basis for those employers that made early offers. All offices are given equal weight in the analysis, regardless of firm size or summer program class size. Overall, on this per-office basis, the average percentage of all offers that were a result of precruiting was nearly 28%. Regionally, the average was lowest in the Northeast (18.3%), and in particular in New York City (16.0%), while the average was highest in the Southeast at 50.1%. Nearly two-thirds of offices in the Southeast made over 30% of their offers through early OCI activity. This compares to just 10% of offices in the Northeast and 4% of offices in New York City specifically.

Table 3 includes similar per-office data for the share of all acceptances that were as a result of precruiting for employers that made early offers. Overall, on a per-office basis, the average percentage of all acceptances that were as a result of precruiting was nearly 30%. By firm size, this average was highest in the smallest firms of 250 or fewer lawyers (33.6%). On a regional basis, the Southeast again had the highest average percentage of acceptances that resulted from early OCI (52.1%), while the West/Rocky Mountain (22.1%) and Northeast (23.0%) regions had the lowest. New York City offices averaged just 17.4% of all acceptances that resulted from precruiting. In the Southeast, early acceptances accounted for more than 30% of all acceptances in nearly three-quarters of offices making early offers, compared to just about one-quarter of offices in the West/Rocky Mountain and Northeast regions (and just 8% of offices in New York City).

Although the Northeast remains the region with the highest percentage of offices participating in precruiting and accounts for the highest early offer volume, other regions, in particular the Southeast, are filling a higher proportion of their summer classes with 2L students through early OCI offer activity.


Table 1. Percentage of All Offers and Acceptances for 2L Summer 2021 Programs That Occurred Prior to OCI (for offices that made early offers)

  % of All Offers That Were Early Offers Median # of Early Offers Average # of Early Offers % of All Acceptances That Were Early Acceptances Median # of Early Acceptances Average # of Early Acceptances Number of Offices
Total — All Employers 15.2% 3 7.1 19.7% 2 3.7 151
By Number of Lawyers Firm-Wide
250 or Fewer 20.7 3 4.2 31.7 2 2.9 9
251-500 16.0 2 5.2 15.5 2 2.1 19
501-700 14.1 1.5 4.1 17.0 1 2.8 10
701+ 15.0 3 7.9 19.9 2 4.1 113
By NALP Region and New York City
Northeast 14.6 10 14.6 18.8 5 6.2 31
     New York City 13.8 10.5 16.8 16.1 4.5 6.3 24
Mid-Atlantic 12.0 3 3.3 16.9 2 1.9 27
Southeast 31.2 1.5 3.2 35.5 1 2.1 32
Midwest 20.3 2 5.2 24.2 2 2.9 18
West/Rocky Mountain 15.0 1 2.4 15.9 1 1.4 26

Source: NALP's Survey of Legal Employers on 2020-21 Recruiting
Note: This table includes both firm-wide and office-specific reports; however, figures by region include firm-wide/multi-office reporting only if the firm is wholly or predominantly located in that region. A total of 151 offices/firms reported making offers to 2Ls for summer 2021 employment prior to the start of OCI and reported the total number of early offers made at schools at which these offices/firms recruit. The total number of offices included in the percentages of all offers and acceptances that were early offers may be slightly smaller than the total number of offices reported in the last column because a few offices only reported the total number of early offers/acceptances and not the total number of all offers and/or acceptances. Early OCI does not include 1Ls who will return for some or all of their 2L summer.


Table 2. Percentage of All Offers for 2L Summer 2021 Programs That Occurred Prior to OCI on a Per-Office Basis (for offices that made early offers)

  Percentage of Offices in Each Range: Average % of All Offers
That Were Early Offers
Number of Offices
% of All Offers That Were Early Offers
10% or Less 10.1 - 30% 30.1 - 100%
Total—All Employers 29.3% 40.7% 30.0% 27.7% 150
By Number of Lawyers Firm-Wide
250 or Fewer 11.1 44.4 44.4 28.3 9
251-500 31.6 36.8 31.6 30.8 19
501-700 30.0 40.0 30.0 26.3 10
701+ 30.4 41.1 28.6 27.2 112
By NALP Region and New York City
Northeast 29.0 61.3 9.7 18.3 31
     New York City 37.5 58.3 4.2 16.0 24
Mid-Atlantic 40.7 29.6 29.6 24.6 27
Southeast 9.4 28.1 62.5 50.1 32
Midwest 22.2 50.0 27.8 28.4 18
West/Rocky Mountain 32.0 48.0 20.0 21.6 25

Source: NALP's Survey of Legal Employers on 2020-21 Recruiting
Note: This table includes both firm-wide and office-specific reports; however, figures by region include firm-wide/multi-office reporting only if the firm is wholly or predominantly located in that region. This analysis gives equal weight to each office/firm. For example, the percentage of all offers that were early offers for a small office has equal weight with that of a very large office.


Table 3. Percentage of All Acceptances for 2L Summer 2021 Programs That Occurred Prior to OCI on a Per-Office Basis (for offices that made early offers)

  Percentage of Offices in Each Range: Average % of All Acceptances
That Were Early Acceptances
Number of Offices
% of All Acceptances that Were Early Acceptances
10% or Less 10.1 - 30% 30.1 - 100%
Total—All Employers 26.9% 34.9% 38.3% 29.7% 149
By Number of Lawyers Firm-Wide
250 or Fewer 22.2 11.1 66.7 33.6 9
251-500 27.8 44.4 27.8 26.8 18
501-700 50.0 30.0 20.0 23.2 10
701+ 25.0 35.7 39.3 30.5 112
By NALP Region and New York City
Northeast 19.4 54.8 25.8 23.0 31
     New York City 25.0 66.7 8.3 17.4 24
Mid-Atlantic 29.6 33.3 37.0 25.9 27
Southeast 9.4 18.8 71.9 52.1 32
Midwest 38.9 33.3 27.8 27.4 18
West/Rocky Mountain 33.3 41.7 25.0 22.1 24

Source: NALP's Survey of Legal Employers on 2020-21 Recruiting
Note: This table includes both firm-wide and office-specific reports; however, figures by region include firm-wide/multi-office reporting only if the firm is wholly or predominantly located in that region. This analysis gives equal weight to each office/firm. For example, the percentage of all acceptances that were early acceptances for a small office has equal weight with that of a very large office.

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