Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2017 NALP employment survey finds law firm entry hiring is "steady and robust" while stabilizing

From the executive summary of a newly released survey of entry law firm hiring practices by the National Association for Law Placement :

NALP: Perspectives on 2017 Law Student Recruiting


Following the near collapse of entry-level recruiting by large law firms in 2009, most law firms have rebuilt their summer programs and in many ways, Big Law recruiting volume and practices resemble those measured before the recession. On the other hand, for the second year in a row aggregate summer offer volume decreased compared with the year before, and a significant percentage of law firms said they made fewer offers for 2018 summer programs than for 2017 summer programs. Also, the average summer program class size at the largest law firms dipped in 2017. The data collected from NALP’s surveys of law schools and law firms at the end of the 2017 recruiting cycle present something of a nuanced picture, suggesting not so much a contraction as a leveling of recruiting volumes following years of growth.


Another characteristic of the most recent recruiting cycle and one that is consistent with patterns measured in the last several years is that the level of recruitment has not been consistent across law firms. Some firms are reporting increased recruiting activity and larger classes even as other firms are reporting scaling back recruiting activity and smaller summer classes. This is consistent with the dispersion and market segmentation in law firm performance generally that has been described by industry observers.


For instance, while about 29 percent of law firms reported visiting more campuses in 2017 compared to 2016, 34 percent reported visiting fewer, and 37 percent reported visiting the same number of schools compared to the previous year. We also saw variations by city, with the median number of schools visited by offices New York, Boston, and Silicon Valley offices decreasing compared with 2016. This is notable in that New York and Silicon Valley law firm offices led the recovery following the recession.


Similarly, while 45 percent of law firms reported making more offers for summer programs in 2017 compared with 2016, 43 percent reported making fewer offers, and ten percent reported making more than ten fewer offers than the year before. This follows survey data from last year that showed 50 percent of firms making fewer offers in 2016 compared with 2015, and thus marks two years in a row with significant numbers of firms reporting that they made fewer offers and follows several years during which a majority of firms reported making more offers year over year. Also of note, the aggregate number of offers made by offices in the New York was down, and nearly flat in the Silicon Valley.


The percentage of callback interviews that resulted in offers for summer programs remained essentially flat (between 52 percent and 54 percent) for the fourth year in a row after having grown from 2012 through 2014, and the yield on those offers also remained essentially flat (between 33 percent and 34 percent) for the last four years. Also, the extent to which firms recruited 3Ls was also flat after having fallen by five full percentage points between 2015 and 2016. The percent of law firms recruiting 3Ls fell precipitously from 2006 to 2009, from 59 percent to just 3 percent, and has since bobbled around in the 15-20 percent range, with figures of 18 percent measured in each of the last two recruiting cycles. 

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Read the full survey report here.



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