THE AMERICAN LAWYER’S FALL STUDENT EDITION: LAW STUDENTS FACE UNCERTAIN FUTURE; SUMMER ASSOCIATES PESSIMISTIC ON JOB PROSPECTS
AND DIVERSITY EFFORTS THREATENED BY CUTBACKS
NEW YORK (October 7, 2009) – The American Lawyer Fall 209 Student Edition, now available digitally and on the publication’s Web site, underlines the growing job market uncertainty facing law school students. According to the publication’s annual survey of those associates lucky enough to land summer jobs at the nation’s largest law firms this year, almost half said they were not sure if they would receive a job offer, up sharply from just 17 percent last year and 12 percent in 2007. According to law firm and law school leaders interviewed, cutbacks in jobs, salary levels and perks for new associates are likely to persist, even after the economy recovers. And, many in the industry fear that diversity hiring and promotion efforts at law firms will also fall victim to the recession. To read the entire Fall Student Edition online, visit www.americanlawyerse.com.
This year’s Summer Associate Survey, based on responses from almost 5,000 summer associates, reveals growing frustration among those rising 3Ls over being kept in the dark about firm hiring plans, as well as an increase in peer competition as the pool of job opportunities shrinks.
In “Don’t’ Look Back,” reporter Tamara Loomis surveys industry leaders and finds widespread agreement that law firms are unlikely to return to their fast-growing, free-spending ways anytime soon, and that their new focus on cost-efficiency means that law students will face more competition and lower compensation for entry level BigLaw jobs. Law firms are also taking a more rigorous approach to recruiting and hiring for those positions they do have; students need to hone interviewing skills and consider specialization in practice areas that are still growing, such as financial regulation and energy law.
Finally, in “Can They Still See the Forest,” Susan Hansen reports that top in-house attorneys plan to continue to push their outside counsel to boost minority hiring and retention efforts, regardless of economic conditions. That pressure may well be needed as survey results indicate that mid-level minority associates may be feeling the effects of recession even more than their peers, particularly in the areas of workload, billable hours and anxiety. Minority midlevels are also more pessimistic about salary cuts and their future with their firms.
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