Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

2019 Summer Associate Offers (98%) Hit All-Time High, But Coronavirus Casts Shadow Over 2020 Summer Programs

NALP, Perspectives on 2019 Law Student Recruiting:

NALPThe report shows robust recruiting activity in 2019, with offer rates coming out of summer programs reaching historic highs. However, the data also suggests that the regrowth in summer program and entry-level recruiting since the Great Recession may be tapering off. The annual report details recruitment activity on campus and at job fairs in 2019; provides information on summer program characteristics; and provides information on the outcomes of 2019 summer programs and of fall 2019 recruiting for both second-year summer associates and entry-level associates not previously employed by that employer.

Perspectives Report Significant Findings:

  • The aggregate offer rate coming out of summer programs increased to nearly 98%, a historic high for a second year in a row.
  • The acceptance rate on these offers remained at 88%, a historical high in both 2018 and 2019, and significantly higher than the pre-recession norm of overall acceptance rates of about 73 to 77 percent. 


  • The average summer program class size fell to 13 after having been flat at 14 for the previous three years, driven in large part by the falling average program class size in the largest firms.
  • Almost 35% of responding firms engaged in early offer activity for their summer 2020 programs, up eight percentage points from last year. Top candidates and diverse candidates were the most frequently targeted for early offers.

Karen Sloan (, Summer Associate Hiring Was Strong, but COVID-19 Prompts Uncertainty Ahead:

Summer associate recruiting was fairly robust in 2019, but questions are swirling over what impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on those second-year students hired last fall by firms and the soon-to-be law graduates who are slated to start work as associates this fall.

According to new data on summer associate hiring released by NALP on Wednesday, the latest law firm recruiting cycle was a strong one. Offer rates to 2019 summer associates hit a historic high of 98%, meaning nearly every summer associate last year received an offer to return to the firm after graduation. ...

[I]it remains to be seen how the coronavirus will impact upcoming summer associate programs and the upcoming law firm recruiting cycle. No law firms have made any official decisions to pare back their incoming summer associate classes or rescind offers to incoming associates, said NALP executive director Jim Leipold in an interview Wednesday. But there is no shortage of anxiety over what will happen with summer associate and entry-level legal employment amid the financial upheaval the virus and the bid to contain it has caused. ...

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, many firms canceled or significantly curtailed their summer associate programs, and rescinded or deferred offers to incoming associates. But the coronavirus is a crisis of a different nature—a significant disruption in commerce instead of a breakdown in the banking and credit system—Leipold said, and some economists are predicting a swift recovery once the pandemic is contained. That could limit the long-term impact on summer associate and new lawyer hiring, he said.

But in the short run, the uncertainty over the coronavirus is sure to overshadow the relatively good news from the fall summer associate recruiting cycle.

Karen Sloan (, Top Law Schools Say Firms Are Pushing to Delay Summer Associate Hiring:

On-campus interviews in January? It seems likely.

At least four major Big Law feeder schools have said that law firm summer associate hiring—or OCI—may be moved back from the current late July or early August to further into the coming academic year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And Columbia Law School informed students on Monday that it is moving it’s OCI program to January, making it the first to commit to the change.

The deans at Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School raised that possibility to students in emails Friday that also announced shifts to mandatory pass/fail grading for the spring semester, three days before Columbia officially made the move. In addition, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and New York University School of Law are weighing possible delays to OCI, spokespeople from both campuses confirmed Monday. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is also considering alternative OCI dates, said career services dean David Diamond.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

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Can't help but remember the familiar adage: "that was then; this is now." Looks more like a 2009 repeat.

Posted by: Tom Sharbaugh | Mar 26, 2020 2:46:39 AM