Fall Legal Recruiting Activities Slow as Economy Weakens

The pace of recruiting slowed during the fall of 2001, according to Perspectives on Fall 2001 Law Student Recruiting, an annual review of selected aspects of fall season recruitment activity and experiences of both legal employers and law schools published by NALP. It appears that the employment market for entry-level summer associates was not immune to the effects of the weakened economy and the disruptions caused by September 11. Among the additional findings:

OCI Activity

Half of law schools reported a decrease of 5% or more in the number of employers on campus, and 36% of law firms reported visiting fewer schools in their recruiting efforts. The nationwide median number of schools at which employers recruited was six, with the largest firms and those reporting from the Mid-Atlantic and Western regions most likely to have decreased the number of schools they visited.

Nationwide, about one-quarter of law schools reported an increase of 5% or more in the number of employers on campus and an equal percentage reported a change of less than 5%. Regional variations are apparent, with schools in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest about twice as likely to report an increase of 5% or more compared with schools in the West.

Job Fairs

Nearly all schools responding participated in one or more job fairs, and 30% participated in eight or more. Firms in the Northeast were most likely to participate in job fairs; firms in the Southeast, Midwest, and West were least likely to do so. Schools in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions were far more likely to participate in eight or more job fairs, with almost half - 47% - doing so. In contrast, about one-quarter of schools in the Southeast, Midwest, and West reported that level of participation. About 41% of responding employers did not participate in any job fairs and just over one-third reported participating in two or more.

Callbacks, Offers and Acceptances

Most summer program participants - 84% - received an offer for an associate position and 73% of these offers were accepted. The median class size for summer programs was six. Summer programs were the largest in New York City, Boston, and Dallas, with medians in these cities two times or more the national figure. The offer rate of 84% is a decline from a figure of about 90% in recent years, while the acceptance rate of 73% is an increase from about 66% in recent years.

Employers issued a median of 36 callback invitations each to second-year students. Nationwide, about three-fourths of these callback invitations were accepted. Just over half of callback interviews resulted in an offer, with a median of 11 offers per employer. About one in three of these offers made to Class of 2003 students for the upcoming summer program were accepted. Both the number of callbacks and offers are in stark contrast to last year with the median number of callbacks at 55 and the median number of offers at 22 per employer.

For large firms of 501 or more attorneys, 58% of callback invitations to second-year students resulted in offers, compared with less than 40% in firms of 100 or fewer attorneys. However acceptance rates were higher at firms of 50 or fewer attorneys (52.5%) and at firms of 51-100 attorneys (42.6%), compared with about 30% in larger firms.

Analyses at the city level revealed wide variations. For example, employers in New York City reported by far the highest level of activity in callback invitations and interviews of second-year students, making an average of 73 offers to second-years for summer 2002. Acceptance rates were lowest at firms in New York and Boston, where less than 30% of offers were accepted. Acceptance rates were highest in the West Palm Beach and Portland areas, where about two-thirds of offers were accepted.

Recruiting of third-year students not previously employed by the employer was reported by less than half (43%) of survey respondents, or 267 employers. The median number of callback invitations was four, and 75% of these callback invitations were accepted. About 30% of these interviews resulted in offers, over half of which were accepted. New York, Boston, and Philadelphia employers also reported the highest number of callback invitations to third-year students, but the average number of offers varied relatively little compared with variations in the number of callbacks. Acceptance rates ranged from about 33% in Portland to all, or nearly all, in Hartford and Seattle. 

Full Report (PDF format)

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