Fall Legal Recruiting Stays the Course

The pace of recruiting in fall 2002 changed relatively little from that of the prior fall, according to Perspectives on Fall 2002 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 and summer associates continued to be affected by weaknesses in the economy. Among the additional findings:

OCI Activity

Over 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 seven, with firms of more than 100 attorneys and those reporting from the Midwest 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 22% reported a change of less than 5%. Regional variations are apparent: schools in the Southeast were more likely to report an increase of 5% or more with about one-third doing so; few schools in the Northeast, less than 1 in 10, did so.

Job Fairs

Nearly all schools responding participated in one or more job fairs, and 36% participated in eight or more. Firms in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region 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 76% and 67%, respectively, doing so. In contrast, about one in five schools in the Southeast and West reported that level of participation and one-third of schools in the Midwest did so. 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 (81%) received an offer for an associate position and 74% of these offers were accepted. The median class size for summer programs was five. Summer programs were the largest in New York City, Atlanta, and Dallas, with medians in these cities five times the national figure. The offer rate of 81% is a small decline from a figure of 84% in 2001, while the acceptance rate of 74% is similar to that for 2001.

Figures for 2002 thus represent the second consecutive year of decreased class sizes (from an average of 14 and a median of 8.5 in 2000, and an average of 12 and a median of 6 in 2001), decreased offer rates (from about 90% in 2000 and the late 90's), and increased acceptance rates (from about 66% in 2000 and the late 90's.) Offer rates in 2002, in fact, were similar to what they were after the summer of 1993 - about 78%.

Employers issued a median of 33 callback invitations each to second-year students. Nationwide, over three-fourths of these callback invitations (78%) were accepted. Half of callback interviews resulted in an offer, with a median of 11 offers per employer. Just over one in three of these offers made to Class of 2004 students for the upcoming summer program were accepted.

The level of activity is similar to that of 2001, when the average and median number of callback invitations was 60 and 33, respectively. Both 2002 and 2001, however, are in contrast to an average of 95 and a median of 55 in 2000, suggesting considerable moderation in recruiting in fall 2001 that carried over into 2002.

For large firms of 501 or more attorneys, 55% of callback invitations to second-year students resulted in offers, compared with less than about 36% in firms of 100 or fewer attorneys. However acceptance rates were higher at firms of 50 or fewer attorneys (61%) and at firms of 51-100 attorneys (44%), compared with about 33% 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 74 offers to second-years for summer 2003. Acceptance rates were lowest at firms in New York and the San Jose area, where about one-quarter of offers were accepted. Acceptance rates were highest in Greenwich/Stamford, Baltimore, Miami, and Missouri, where half or more of offers were accepted, followed by Pittsburgh, Houston, Tampa, and Indiana, where close to half of offers were accepted.

Just one-quarter of survey respondents, or 154 employers, reported recruiting of third-year students not previously employed by the employer. The median number of callback invitations was 4.5, and most (90%) of these callback invitations were accepted. About 30% of these interviews resulted in offers, well over half of which were accepted. Third-year recruiting activity was highest in New York and Chicago where employers averaged 11 callback invitations, and 3 and 4 offers, respectively. Acceptance rates ranged from about 37% in Houston and San Francisco to 100% in Los Angeles.

Full Report (PDF format)

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