Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

NALP: Larger Law School Class Of 2024 Faces Tightening Job Market Following Dip In Summer Associate Hiring

NALP, Entry-Level Law Firm Recruiting Activity Holds Steady, With More Offers Made Prior to OCI:

NALP today released its Perspectives on 2022 Law Student Recruiting report, available at Industry data indicate that the 2022 law firm recruiting season was an interesting one, being both robust and competitive, albeit possibly tinged by the threat of an economic recession. At a high level, the data indicates that an overwhelming majority of U.S. law firms either maintained or increased their recruiting activities compared with last year, a fact that is made notable as the 2021 recruiting cycle was itself particularly strong compared to prior years. However, despite sustaining a heightened level of activity for a second year in a row, fewer offers were made for students to join summer 2023 programs, with the number of offers decreasing by nearly 2% compared with those made for the 2022 program. In most years, a 2% decrease would not be overly remarkable, but recall that summer 2023 2Ls are in the Class of 2024, which had an entering class size that was almost 12% larger than the Class of 2023.


“What is clear is that the entry-level job market in the private sector is currently not growing fast enough to absorb the additional students in the Class of 2024 and that unless there is a strong 3L hiring market this year — which seems unlikely given recent trends — a greater percentage of these students may need to look at other market segments for employment after graduation,” writes NALP Executive Director Nikia L. Gray in the report.

The report also highlights the continued prevalence of pre-OCI offers (or “precruiting”). Firms reported making more early offers than ever before — 3,145 offers total, representing 23.3% of all offers to 2Ls for summer 2023 programs. This is nearly twice the number of early offers made in 2021.

“It has become clear that the recruiting days of yore are not returning and that the developments born out of the pandemic are our new recruiting normal. However, as an increasing number of reports issued these past few weeks have announced falling partner profits, softening hours, and excess capacity at law firms mingled with projections of record rate increases and bullish growth for 2023, the only solid prediction one can make about the upcoming recruiting cycle is that it won’t be dull,” she adds.

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