The Legal Beat
Biglaw Offer Rates For Law School Student Recruitment Reaches Historic Highs
Posted on Thursday March 14, 2019
For the past few years, law student recruitment for summer associate programs has been incredibly successful, harkening back to a time when law students quickly accepted the offers that Biglaw firms handed out like candy. The 2018 recruitment cycle was a little different than in years past, but only in that its outcomes were even more extraordinary than usual.
According to the latest law student recruiting figures from the National Association of Law Placement (NALP), offer rates from Biglaw summer programs have reached some historic highs. Not only did the aggregate offer rate jump to almost 97 percent after having been flat for the past three years at about 95 percent, but the acceptance rate for those offers reached a high of 88 percent after ranging from between 84 percent and 86 percent for the past seven years. What’s even more exciting is that this historic acceptance rate is significantly higher than acceptance rates measured before the recession, which tended to hover between about 73 to 77 percent. Here’s what James Leipold, NALP’s executive director, had to say about the latest recruiting figures:
After a period of great volatility following the recession marked first by a prolonged slowdown in law student recruiting and then a period of rapid escalation in recruiting, we have seen the recruiting market stabilize over the last four or five years. The recruiting climate is most accurately described as steady in 2018, though as with law firm profitability, there remain large differences between individual firms in terms of the number of offers being extended for summer programs and the size of the summer programs themselves. Meanwhile, offer rates coming out of summer programs are at historic highs, as are yield rates on those offers, and the 3L recruiting market remains quite anemic, findings that are closely linked.
Here are some interesting facts about the results for law students who went through the on-campus interviewing process in the summer and fall of 2018:
- One may be the loneliest number, but not for law firm summer associate classes. The most common summer program class size in 2018 was a class of just one person. In fact, one-quarter of summer programs reported for summer 2018 consisted of one or two summer associates. In contrast, prior to the recession in 2008, just 16 percent of summer programs consisted of one or two associates.
- At 14, the average summer program class size was flat for the third year in a row, but for the biggest of Biglaw firms, the average summer class size was 19, a number that has fallen since 2016 (from 22 in 2016 to 20 in 2017 and so on). Seventeen percent of summer classes were larger than 20, while six 6 percent were larger than 50.
- There are still fewer summer associate positions available than there were before the recession (by a measure of at least 1,000), and law students are even more eager than before to fill those roles. Who wouldn’t be? After all, the starting salary at premier Biglaw firms is now $190,000.
Congratulations to all law students who went through the entry-level recruitment cycle in 2018, as things seem to have worked out marvelously for them. Cross your fingers and hope that remains the same for future law school classes to come.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.