Law school is widely known for its competitive environment. And according to the results of Law.com’s Summer Associates Survey, it’s getting even more competitive -- at least when it comes to summer associate positions in Big Law. Here’s a closer look at the findings.
Specifically, the report revealed that summer hires dropped by 2.02 percent at the 92 Am Law 200 firms participating in the survey. Altman Weil consultant Eric Seeger said of the trend, “A majority of firms are telling us that their partners are not busy enough. In firms where partners are having a hard time keeping themselves busy, they have less work to throw to associates.”
Meanwhile, Cadwalader managing partner Patrick Quinn told Law.com that cutbacks at his firm were a strategic measure. “We made a conscious decision to keep our numbers down to ensure that we keep quality up and that our summers have a great experience,” he said. “At our firm’s current size, we are able to provide this size of summer class with a great experience with lots of very substantive and challenging work and a lot of personal attention.”
The report also reveals that some geographic reasons are more favorable for summer associate positions than others. New York City reported the largest number of summer hires, followed by Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston.
The good news? While positions for law associates may have dropped in number, salaries have risen. Am Law 200 summer associate salaries increased to $3,285 weekly in 2017 -- up 11.36 percent from last year.
All of this may leave aspiring lawyers wondering what this means for first-year associates. While some firms are expecting to welcome smaller-than-average class sizes, others anticipate roughly the same numbers over the next half-decade, according to Altman Weil’s Law Firms in Transition Survey.
One way for aspiring lawyers to maximize their employability in a precarious job market? Embrace technology. Seeger continued, “Lawyers that can employ technology that increases speed and decreases cost will be very much in demand, whether they are working in a big law firm or some other setting.”
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