Law Firm Hiring Still Tight at Top Firms, Even for the Most Sought-After Law Grads

With the U.S. economy showing signs of improvement, law firms remain hesitant to boost associate hiring.  As the National Law Journal observes, "It's Tough out There," or maybe the more appropriate title would be, It's STILL tough out thereLaw.com  noted recently that fewer associates were hired at the nation's largest 250 law firms in 2011 than in 2010.  Definitely a step in the wrong direction, noting a drop in hiring from the 50 schools that are most popular with hiring managers-from 27 percent of 2010 graduates down to only 22 percent of 2011 law grads being placed in those firms.

National Law Journal's annual survey of law firm hiring breaks it down in several ways.  First, the list of "Go To" law schools, or those with the largest percentages of grads hired at the top 250 law firms. The top 10 on this list include Penn, Northwestern, Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Cal Berkeley, University of Chicago, Duke, NYU and University of Virginia law schools.

Next, the NLJ breaks it down to the firm favorites, the schools most often tapped to supply first year associates to the top 250 firms. Harvard Law School shows up most consistently on this list, with other notable regulars including Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, Northwestern and Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. The NLJ adds that Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom hired the largest number of first year associates in 2011, while Jones Day recruited candidates from the largest number of law schools.

What's the outlook for 2012 and beyond?  The NLJ interviewed hiring partners at large and regional firms.  The large firm hiring partner predicts a bump up to 75 summer associates this year, a nice-sized increase over the 55 brought in for summer 2011.  The Northeastern and Midwestern firms anticipate a small boost, while the southern firm suggests no change.

Sources:

Law.com

National Law Journal