Thursday, March 04, 2010

Law Firm Summer Associate and Entry Level Recruiting Plunged in the Fall of 2009

The March 4, 2010 NALP Now Bulletin for Legal Career Professionals reported that the hiring of summer associates and entry-level lawyers plunged in the Fall of 2009.  This is what was published:

"All of the markers that measure the strength of the legal employment market for new lawyers, such as law firm recruiting levels for summer programs and summer program outcomes, fell in 2009, continuing and accelerating the general downward trend in recruiting volumes that was measured in 2008. The drop-off in the numbers in the second year of the recession was steeper than the decrease in volume seen during the first year of the recession, as the recession continued to batter both the economy in general and the legal employment market specifically. Based on information provided by NALP members about fall 2009 recruiting, the market for entry-level legal employment shrank dramatically, especially for current second-year students (2Ls) seeking a position for summer 2010. This is according to Perspectives on Fall 2009 Law Student Recruiting, an annual report published by NALP on selected aspects of fall recruitment activity and the experiences of both legal employers and law schools. All NALP members will receive a copy of Perspectives on Fall 2009 Law Student Recruiting with their March Bulletin. The report is also available as a downloadable PDF from, and NALP issued a press release about the report this week that can be found at"
What does this mean for current law students?  Most 2011 and 2012 graduates do not yet have legal-related summer jobs.  What's worse, most 2010 graduates - third year law students - don't have any job prospects.  What do you do?  Understand that you have NO CONTROL over the economy or the job market and that you are NOT ALONE.  The economy has reduced the job market in every sector of our global economy.  Here are some thoughts:
  1. Keep actively looking for jobs - legal, quasi-legal, internships, and as a last resort, non-legal jobs.
  2. Network and take advantage of any and all offers of help by people you know and those you just meet.  This help often appears in the form of opening doors. 
  3. Accept every offer for courtesy or informational interviews with lawyers or recruitment professionals.
  4. Prepare for and present yourself in those interviews as if they were actual job interviews because the first impression you make will be a lasting one.  And one contact leads to another and another.
  5. Be able to articulate why you are interested in each job and why you would add value to each organization.  (A recruiter just rejected an otherwise suitable candidate because when asked what about the company was of interest, he replied that he needed a job and the company posted the position on the school's website.)
  6. Evaluate your unique situation after law school.  (a) Will you have loan debt?  If so, when will you have to start paying it back and how much will it be per month? (b)  Will your living situation require you to pay rent or a mortgage?  (c) Estimate your monthly fixed and variable living costs.
  7. If you cannot find a paying legal job, determine whether you are in a financial position that would enable you to work in an unpaid internship position for a year and supplementing that with a paying job (i.e., waiter, store clerk) at night or on weekends.
  8. If you have a sense of entitlement and can't get over the unfairness of it all ~ lose it!  Adopt a winning attitude by searching for what is within reach.  Down the road, employers will be looking at your resume and what will separate you from the rest of the pack is their perception of your resourcefulness and resilience.
  9. Understand that this is a temporary situation.  History tells us that this time will pass.  We don't know when things will turn around but we know they will.
  10. Adopt a positive attitude.  Even if it is forced initiatlly, positive, hopeful attitudes are evident in your daily interactions with people, who will be more inclined to help someone upbeat.
For more information on legal job search tips, see our prior Blogs in 2009 on "Thinking Outside the Box: Your Approach to Finding a Legal Job in a Tight Job Market" and  "The Importance of Informational Interviewing in A Down Economy."

Randi S. Lewis | | Founder, Resume Boutique LLC | | | | 410.218.0586

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