‘Tis the season of summer program cancellations. Just don’t call them cancellations. Today we’ve learned that Dewey & LeBoeuf has “paused” its 2011 summer program in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.

You can really see the difficulty of the situation faced by Biglaw firms. Here we are in July of 2010, and firms are supposed to make a decision about what their hiring needs will be like in the fall of 2012. It’s a little bit ridiculous to expect firms to be able to do that. But at least now it seems like firms are trying to be more cautious. While it makes things harder for rising 2Ls, the cautious approach should mean that people who are lucky enough to get jobs should be able to keep them — and avoid the career annihilation of losing a job as a first-year associate.

At Dewey, the scale of the programs in these three offices was never really that big to begin with…

It’s not like Dewey is canceling the summer in its big offices in New York or Washington. As we understand it, the current (summer 2010) program in Chicago includes about three people. There are another three or so in L.A., and Houston has just one or two summers. So Dewey pulling out of these markets for a year shouldn’t cause career service deans at Northwestern, UCLA, and UT-Austin to reach for the Xanax.

And while Dewey won’t be hiring new summers, their firm still has some fresh talent coming into their offices. Remember the DL Pursuits program, which was the year-long deferral option Dewey offered over a year ago? Yeah, well, those people are on their way back, and Dewey needs to make sure it has space for them.

Like many firms, Dewey is confronted with re-integrating people who have been out on deferrals, a Dewey spokesperson told us. In order to make sure that happens efficiently, the firm needs to be cautious about its future hiring needs.

While rising 2Ls don’t want to hear it, if firms had been a little bit more prudent with hiring in 2006 and 2007, then 2008 and 2009 might not have been such a bloody mess.

If you have news about a 2011 summer program cancellation, please email us.

Earlier: Which Firms Aren’t Having 2011 Summer Associate Programs?
Dewey & LeBoeuf: Latest Firm to Offer a Year-Long Deferral to All Associates


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