Why Law Firms are Slowing Down on Summer Associate Hiring
Law firms are dialing back on summer associate hiring amidst a legal market slowdown.
Reuters reports that summer associate job offers declined 2% this year, according to data released by the National Association for Law Placement. At a macro-level, the hiring landscape for the class of 2024 is highly competitive with a 12% increase in 2024’s class compared to 2022.
“What is clear is that the entry-level job market in the private sector is currently not growing fast enough to absorb the additional students in the Class of 2024,” NALP executive director Nikia Gray says.
MORE STUDENTS, LESS JOBS
The large influx of students from the Class of 2024 means two things. For one, there simply isn’t enough jobs available for all students. With the increase in competition, students may need to look beyond large firms for available jobs.
The enrollment increase for the Class of 2024 is a big deal. While experts predicted an increase in law students, they weren’t expecting an increase this large.
“I talked to a score of deans this summer, and not a single person thought it would be this high,” Mike Spivey, a law school admissions consultant, says. “Twelve percent is a huge number. You almost never see that.”
According to ABA data, 153 law schools either increased the size of this year’s first-year class or kept it even with 2020. That data has a large effect on the hiring market. Spivey says a larger starting class runs the risk of flooding the hiring market with more grads and lower employment rates.
“Right now, the market is hot, but if the pendulum swings back and hiring slows down, this is going to be devastating in three years,” he says.
REMOTE INTERVIEWING HERE TO STAY
Most law firms either maintained or increased their summer associate recruiting activities last year, but offers extended were fewer when compared to the year before. Data also shows that remote summer associate interviewing—which gained momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic—is here to stay.
“As an increasing number of reports issued these past few weeks have announced falling partner profits, softening hours and excess capacity at law firms mingled with projections of record rate increases and bullish growth for 2023, the only solid prediction one can make about the upcoming recruiting cycle is that it won’t be dull,” Gray says.
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