A busy Biglaw bee.

If you’re bummed about having to shelve your plans for a nice tropical vacation this summer, you’re not alone. According to 43% of survey respondents, this summer is turning out to be busier than the rest of the year.

The top reasons cited for the increased billables are that partners are bringing in more business (63%) and the economy is improving (42%). Some of the other reasons, however, are not as upbeat: respondents report having to pick up the slack for other associates who left their firm voluntarily or involuntarily (28%), or who went on vacation (15%).

Another 30% of survey respondents say that this summer has been slower than other months (while the remaining 27% of respondents report that their workload is about the same as the rest of the year).

Why the work slowdown? Which firms and practice areas are turning up the heat this summer? An which ones are cooling things down?

Here are the reasons given for summer slowness:

  • 68% say major cases or deals were completed or went away.
  • 43% say partners are on vacation.
  • 9% say partners have left the firm and have taken their work with them.
  • 7% attribute the slowdown to the European financial crisis.
  • 5% attribute the slowdown to the debt ceiling impasse.
  • 5% say no new work is coming in.

On the practice group front, intellectual property and real estate tie for being the busiest this summer, while bankruptcy has the highest percentage of associates taking it easy.

The honor of busiest law firm this summer goes to Gibson Dunn, which is reaping the benefits of an improving economy (at least from the survey respondents’ points of view). On the other hand, Latham & Watkins gets the lightest workload award, thanks in part to partners going on vacation as well as major cases and deals going away.

For more information about the associate experience at the leading law firms, visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.

Earlier: Career Center Survey: How Busy Are You?