Many summers can already see the writing on the wall. It’s going to be a no-offer party this fall. Law school career service professionals are trying to prepare their students for the inevitable.
The career services offices at Georgetown University Law Center sent around a very thoughtful letter, on Friday. Summer associates should take heed. Let’s get the obvious news out of the way first:
What are we hearing?
I have been speaking with many of our close contacts in law firms across the country to assess what firms are planning in terms of post-graduate offers to their summer associates. Most firms indicate that they are waiting until the latest possible date to finalize their strategy so as to take into account as much market information as possible, but a few themes are emerging:
1. Unlike past years, many firms will not be making offers to all or almost all their summers. I hear of offer rates that range from 80% at the high end to 50% at the low end. Note that there is significant variation from firm to firm and region to region, and all the firms I speak with are trying their best to make offers to as many of their summer associates as possible.
2. Many firms are considering making deferred offers to some or all of their current summer associates to begin work sometime in 2011, and some have already announced that they will do so. Firms are not clear as to what stipend, if any, they will pay deferred associates in the coming year, and what conditions (e.g. working in the public sector) must be met to receive a stipend.
The class of 2009 thought that they were the “lost generation.” But would they want to switch places with the class of 2010?
After the jump, more bad news from GULC career services.
The Georgetown email notes a very interesting piece of information that we’ve been hearing as well:
3. Offer decisions will likely be made late this year, some weeks or months after the summer program ends, as firms assess their needs.
This could be the first sign that the oft criticized Biglaw hiring model is changing. It’s not just a question of how many offers firm will make, it’s also a question of when the firms will make their decisions. The class of 2010 might not know if they have even gotten an offer from their summer firms until months after the summer.
That sounds like a lot of rising 3Ls will be forced into 3L interviewing — to the extent that 3L interviewing exists this fall:
4. There will be very little opportunity to interview with a large firm as a 3L/4E. While 3L/4E interviewing at EIW is low even in strong markets, it is even lower in the current economic climate. If you review the list of firms currently registered to interview 3Ls during EIW 2009 on Symplicity, you will note that there are few employers and interview slots available for 3Ls/4Es.
Is there any news for rising 3Ls that won’t make them want to consider a career in the food services industry? Not really. But here’s Georgetown’s advice:
What does this mean for you?
1. Make the most of your summer experience. We know that you are already working very hard to maximize your chances of getting an offer or deferred offer at the end of this summer. I thought the article titled “Some Words of Advice for Summer Associates of 2009″ by Stephen Seckler at http://www.counseltocounsel.com/adviceforsummer09.pdf provides a good overview of how to approach your summer. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already done so. Undoubtedly the standard of review of your work product and behavior is higher this year than it was for summer associates in recent years. If you have concerns about how to handle a particular situation at your firm, do not hesitate to seek advice from your OCS counselor or me.
2. View your summer as more than an opportunity to receive an offer. Some of the best performing summer associates may not receive offers, because of issues at the firm as a whole or a particular department’s inactivity. So think about the following questions: Are you developing relationships with lawyers at the firm who can act as a strong reference and speak with specificity about your work skills and behavior? Are you getting to know a range of lawyers, senior and junior, and gaining experience in a variety of substantive areas? Will you have a written product that you may be able to use as a strong writing sample (with permission of course)? Are you taking advantage of opportunities that the summer presents to develop your professional network of contacts inside and outside the firm? If the answer to any of these questions is no, or if you are unsure about how best to proceed, I encourage you to seek the guidance of any of the OCS counselors sooner rather than later.
3. Consider a judicial clerkship. State and federal judicial clerkships present excellent professional opportunities but will be more competitive this year than last. Waiting until you need a job to apply may prove too late – the first Law Center deadline for participating in the federal and relevant state court application process is July 15. Don’t overlook the D.C. local courts, specialty federal courts or other unusual but valuable opportunities like the 7th circuit staff attorney’s office clerkships. For detailed information access our clerkship resources at the OCS home page, and consult with your OCS counselor as soon as possible.
4. Educate yourself on government opportunities and application processes. Many government agencies hire entry-level lawyers through an Honors Program, and OPICS will be sending information on upcoming deadlines, the Government Interview Program, and additional resources about government hiring in the next couple of weeks. Note that the application process for government positions is significantly different than the process for applying to law firms, and educating yourself about the differences is critical to making yourself competitive for government opportunities. I encourage you to meet this summer with your OPICS counselor about government and public interest.
There is much more to consider, and as I noted at the beginning of this memo, we will be writing to you periodically with more information and advice. These are unusual times to say the least, and you will need to be proactive and persistent to position yourself as well as possible in an uncertain market. All the OCS and OPICS counselors stand ready to work with and assist you during these challenging times.
A lot of people went to law school on the theory “you can do anything with a law degree.” It’s time to take that out for a spin. Good luck.
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