Outcomes of Summer Programs

NALP Bulletin, August 2008

As summer programs draw to a close, most employers can predict reasonably well what the acceptance rate from their summer program will be. However, a look at the broader picture and at the trends over time provide not only benchmarks against which to compare one's own results, but also a better understanding of the larger market and a clearer picture of how the legal employment market tracks with the overall economy.

NALP has been monitoring summer and fall recruiting activity in some manner for about 20 years and has collected information on summer program outcomes since the early 1990s by means of a yearly survey of employers. The findings are published annually in Perspectives on Fall Law Student Recruiting. A compilation of results over the past 10 years is shown in the table below and the table on the opposite page. Some of the notable findings include:

  • Generally, about 90% of summer associates receive an offer for employment, but the figure decreased to 84% for summer 2001. Overall, the acceptance rate has climbed from about 60% to about 75%.
  • The major markets for summer employment are by no means homogeneous, and annual differences in the size of the summer program are not surprising, with median summer program sizes in 2007 ranging from four in Atlanta to sixteen or more in New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas. In other years the median has been highest in Atlanta or Boston. Although exact comparisons are not possible because the pool of respondents varies from year to year, it is evident that in some cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, the medians are quite stable from year to year. In other cities, such as Boston and Atlanta, the medians have fluctuated considerably.
  • Cities also differ with respect to offer and acceptance rates. For example, typically firms in Boston and New York make an offer to nearly all of their summer associates. Acceptance rates in these cities tend to be relatively high as well. Offer rates are also relatively high in Atlanta and Washington, DC, but acceptance rates are below average. Dallas and Houston tend to be below average with respect to both of these measures.

The full Perspectives on Fall Law Student Recruiting reports from 2001 are available under "Research & Directories" > Recruitment & Hiring. In addition to more detailed information on summer program outcomes, these reports also offer information on fall recruiting for summer programs, third-year recruiting, employer activity on campus, and summer program characteristics.

Summary of Summer Program Outcomes — 1997-2001


1997 1999 2001
Median Size of Summer Program % of Participants Receiving Offer % of Offers Accepted Median Size of Summer Program % of Participants Receiving Offer % of Offers Accepted Median Size of Summer Program % of Participants Receiving Offer % of Offers Accepted
Nationwide 8.0 88.2% 60.1% 8.0 88.9% 65.2% 6.0 84.2% 72.8%
Size of Firm:
50 or fewer 4.0 79.3 59.0 3.0 69.1 68.1 2.0 63.3 72.6
51-100 6.0 84.8 73.2 5.0 83.0 75.4
101-250 9.0 88.3 62.0 8.0 88.5 64.9 8.5 81.8 73.2
251-500 10.0 92.2 58.6 9.0 90.0 70.3 11.0 82.8 73.3
501+ 10.0 91.4 60.1 8.0 89.1 71.8
By City:
Boston 28.0 97.8 75.0 19.0 97.4 73.5 21.0 88.2 82.5
New York City 10.0 97.4 59.2 18.0 97.6 70.3 12.0 95.0 78.5
Philadelphia 10.0 90.3 63.4 11.0 73.8 87.2
Washington, DC 7.5 91.5 48.4 8.5 90.2 59.7 7.0 88.9 66.0
Atlanta 23.0 91.5 54.1 13.5 90.8 62.3 9.0 85.2 70.8
Dallas 18.0 84.8 57.1 22.0 75.3 39.3 17.0 79.5 55.1
Houston 18.0 81.4 52.2 21.0 89.9 49.7 10.5 79.2 60.7
Chicago 15.0 90.0 65.9 14.0 91.7 70.1 9.0 86.4 71.9
Los Angeles 6.0 64.5 60.0 6.0 86.9 66.3 6.0 88.3 69.9
San Francisco 7.0 90.7 44.9 5.0 91.7 59.1 7.0 85.1 67.2

Source: NALP's Perspectives on Fall Law Student Recruiting reports for 1997-2007.

Summary of Summer Program Outcomes – 2003-2007


2003 2005 2007
Median Size of Summer Program % of Participants Receiving Offer % of Offers Accepted Median Size of Summer Program % of Participants Receiving Offer % of Offers Accepted Median Size of Summer Program % of Participants Receiving Offer % of Offers Accepted
Nationwide 5.0 87.0% 77.0% 6.0 90.6% 73.0% 6.0 92.8% 76.8%
By Size of Firm:
50 or fewer 2.0 64.5 75.6 2.0 60.4 70.4 3.0 73.0 73.6
51-100 4.0 74.8 77.3 4.0 79.5 76.4
101-250 6.0 80.0 77.8 8.0 84.3 77.1 8.0 87.6 78.3
251-500 5.0 85.8 81.7 9.0 88.2 73.7 9.0 90.5 77.5
501+ 7.0 91.9 75.4 9.0 95.3 72.0 8.0 96.1 76.5
By City:
Boston 14.0 93.2 78.9 9.0 96.5 85.3 9.0 97.9 80.1
New York City 18.0 96.4 78.5 14.0 99.1 76.3 22.0 99.0 79.5
Philadelphia 14.0 93.8 86.7 13.0 93.8 83.5 16.0 92.7 81.4
Washington, DC 6.0 84.9 68.4 9.5 94.4 60.5 9.0 94.7 71.9
Atlanta 12.0 86.8 72.0 10.5 93.4 65.9 4.0 87.6 67.0
Dallas 8.0 73.3 68.2 15.5 79.5 56.0 17.0 85.0 47.8
Houston 5.0 82.1 62.3 9.0 85.3 54.9 8.0 83.7 60.9
Chicago 9.0 90.7 79.4 11.0 94.4 75.3 9.0 95.3 81.7
Los Angeles 5.0 88.6 82.1 6.0 94.2 77.3 5.5 91.0 77.6
San Francisco 5.0 84.9 86.1 5.0 92.4 73.8 5.0 94.5 65.8

Source: NALP's Perspectives on Fall Law Student Recruiting reports for 1997-2007.

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