Associate Hiring: ‘Two Steps Forward, One Step Back’
Looking for a reason to be optimistic? According to data from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), associate hiring is slowly inching up. Based on a survey of 400 law firms, NALP reports that the average summer associate class size has risen from nine to 11 associates.
NALP’s data also reflects better job prospects for associates. Summer associates earned permanent jobs at a 92% clip, a number that nearly matches the 2008 high. What’s more, summer associate interviews leading to job offers increased from 44% in 2012 to 47% in 2013.
Still, these numbers aren’t entirely rosy. Although average associate class sizes climbed to 11, the median remained at five, which likely reflects that most gains were concentrated in a handful of large firms. What’s more, the percentage of job offers lags far below the 63% high set in 2006.
These contradictory numbers may also mirror the uneven and tenuous state of the economic recovery, says NALP executive director Jim Leipold:
“At the end of 2013, the sense in the market seemed to be continued flat to declining volume in demand for legal services, with continued downward pressure on the costs for providing those services and a realization rate that continues to slip. There have also been predictions that there will be further stratification in the market, so one thing we may be seeing in the numbers is that some firms are growing their summer programs while others are reining in class size or leaving it flat.”
Source: National Law Journal