What Happened to Hiring Summer Associates in 2016?

May 2, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) recently released data that reflected a steady summer associate hiring in 2016, ending two years of consecutive growth. 

In an article in the American Lawyer, NALP Executive Director James Leipold said, “After a period of considerable volatility marked first by a prolonged slowdown in law student recruiting volumes following the recession and then a rapid escalation in recruiting volumes for two years running, we have seen the recruiting market stabilize this year." He added, "Recruiting volumes remain at a high level, but the numbers were mostly flat compared to last year, and in some cases we saw some contractions, suggesting that the most recent period of growth has ended, or at the very least slowed.”

What caused the slowdown?  It could be the starting salaries of $180,000 for new associates at many of the bigger firms.

Despite the plateau, the New York market for top law students remains fierce.  There, recruitments increased.  Almost 29 percent of New York firms reported offering jobs to students before their on-campus interviews.  Why?  To get the most desirable candidates. 

Leipold explained, “From the 30,000-foot level it is clear that law firms continue to face pressure to carefully evaluate lawyer staffing levels at every juncture. … At the same time, law school graduating class sizes will continue to shrink through at least 2019, leaving fewer students competing for the remaining jobs."

What does this mean for you?  Continue to be the standout law student that you are—and angle for a top spot at a top-notch firm.

Learn more about earning your law degree


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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