No Offers, Summer Associates

Open Thread: It’s Going to be an Interesting Summer

no offer factories.jpgThe summer of 2009 should be very different from past summers of fun and excess. Many are expecting this summer to be a twelve week (or ten week, or eight week) “job interview” that current Biglaw associates didn’t really have to go through.

This shouldn’t come as a galloping shock to A) regular ATL readers, B) casual ATL readers, C) people who can read, or D) anybody at all that has been paying the slightest bit of attention to the legal industry.

But it is time to ask “how bad is it going to be?” We started receiving reports this weekend on perhaps a new paradigm for summer associates. Here’s a rumor that has been swirling around Nixon Peabody:

Nixon Peabody [has] informed their summer class they will only be hiring 50% of the summer associates?? Basically they said…only HALF of you are going to make it and we are going to give you real work to see who is worthy.

After the jump, Nixon Peabody unequivocally shoots down this rumor.

The firm responded very quickly and denied our reports of a Draconian summer program.

Contrary to what you’ve heard, we haven’t had any communications with our class of 2009 Summer Associates regarding offers which will be given out at the end of the summer. Nixon Peabody has a long tradition of giving a significant percentage of offers each year. Our offers will be based on our projection of needs in various practice groups for Fall 2010, a process we have yet to begin.

In regards to our summer associate program, we strive to give our summer associates a realistic view of life and work at Nixon Peabody. In the past, we have provided our summer associates with substantive client work along with pro bono work and more academic assignments such as assistance with article writing. We will continue to provide associates with this type of substantive work this summer and the summers ahead.

But just because these things are not happening at Nixon Peabody doesn’t mean anybody should expect their 2009 summer to be “normal.” Last summer we saw that many firms ended up extending offers to around 90% of their summers. People were outraged at the time (pre-Lehman) but right now, how many people would gladly sign up for a 90% offer rate?

Or 75%?

If summers are going to have to compete for offers in ways that haven’t happened in a decade, what kind of work will they be getting in order to distinguish themselves from their classmates. We’re hearing reports from all over Biglaw that work is slow. Are firms even going to have enough work for incoming summers? And will that work be substantive enough to allow firms to make meaningful determinations about who should stay and who should go?

A lot of 2Ls who interviewed during the opening salvo of the global financial crisis think that the worst is behind them. But even if you are lucky enough to have a summer offer, the difference between that and having a full time offer for employment after you graduate is bigger than it has been in a long time.

What can 2Ls do to distinguish themselves this summer?

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of no offers

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