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IndyBar: Entry-Level Law Firm Recruiting Activity Remains Brisk, but May Have Peaked for Now

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The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) released its annual Perspectives on 2016 Law Student Recruiting report, showing that entry-level law firm recruiting remained robust, although flat compared to last year. The lack of additional growth after consistent increases over the last several years suggests that recruiting volumes may have peaked after a marked post-recession recovery.

NALP Executive Director James Leipold summarized the findings, saying, “After a period of considerable volatility marked first by a prolonged slowdown in law student recruiting volumes following the recession and then a rapid escalation in recruiting volumes for two years running, we have seen the recruiting market stabilize this year. Recruiting volumes remain at a high level, but the numbers were mostly flat compared to last year, and in some cases we saw some contractions, suggesting that the most recent period of growth has ended, or at the very least slowed.”

Significant Findings:

For the first time in four years, half of the firms responding to NALP’s surveys reported that they made fewer offers for summer positions than they did in the previous year.

The offer rate coming out of summer programs fell slightly, from 95.3 percent to 94.6 percent, but offer rates varied considerably by law firm size and by geography.

The acceptance rate on these offers has hovered between 84 percent and 86 percent for six years in a row now, more or less flat and significantly higher than the pre–recession norm of acceptance rates which ranged from about 72 percent to 77 percent.

Members of the Class of 2018 — those who went through the OCI process in the summer and fall of 2016 — began to experience the flattening of the curve in recruiting volumes.

Across employers of all sizes, the median number of offers extended fell slightly from 12 to 11.5, still well below the high of 15 measured in 2007, but well above the low of 7 measured in 2009.

The percent of callback interviews resulting in offers for summer positions moved only slightly from 53.8 percent down to 53.3 percent, still well below the figures of 62.7 percent and 60 percent measured in 2006 and 2007, and well above the low figure of 36.4 percent measured in 2009.•

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