The sky is not falling. Or if it is, it’s falling very, very slowly.
Yes, the legal industry is going through some major changes. The profession is becoming more business-focused than ever before, meaning that it’s harder out here for a partner. It’s also a tough time to graduate from a low-ranked law school if you’re not at the top of the class, as Elie Mystal has discussed at great length.
But for many law students and young lawyers, especially those with strong credentials from strong law schools, times are still good. For proof of this, consider on-campus interviewing (OCI), currently taking place at law schools around the country….
We’re in the middle of OCI season right now, when law firms go to law schools to recruit the next class of summer associates. (You can also call the process “fall recruiting”; even though it now starts in July or August, rather than September or October, it does take place in the fall semester of law school.)
I’ve been in touch with a number of 2Ls at top law schools who are going through OCI, and so far it’s going very well for them. One friend, a law review editor at a T6 school, has more than a dozen callbacks; another friend, in the top third of the class at a T14 school, has about ten callbacks. Two other friends, in the top 25 percent of the class at a T14 school, already have offers from V10 firms.
This evidence is admittedly anecdotal; I haven’t conducted an empirical study to demonstrate the value of a law degree. But it’s sufficient to demonstrate the rather modest point I’d like to make here, as a counterweight to all the negativity (some of which you’ll see here at Above the Law): if you go a reasonably good law school and do reasonably well, you can land a desirable job working at a large law firm.
Because summer programs have shrunk in size since the Great Recession — and continue to shrink, although modestly — it’s harder to land a summer associate job than before. As one hiring partner said at this year’s NALP conference, “These days we’re looking for any reason not to hire a summer associate. You have to be the A-plus person to get a position these days.”
But contrary to some of the doom and gloom in the media — yes, that includes the pages of ATL — law students and law school graduates are still landing jobs in Biglaw. They might not love being associates, but they don’t have to stay in Biglaw forever; once they’ve paid off (or made a substantial dent in) their educational debt (if any), they can move on to other opportunities. One can disagree with the claim that Biglaw is “alive, well, and rich,” but it is still alive, and it is still hiring.
If you’re a 2L going through OCI now and looking for more information about law firms, be sure to check out the firm profiles in our Law Firm Directory, which give each firm a letter grade based on (1) insider ratings from lawyers who work there and (2) overall industry reputation. The profiles also bring together law firm information from various sources around the web — Am Law, Chambers, Vault — for ease of reference and one-stop shopping.
Here are some additional stories, from ATL and elsewhere, that you might want find helpful (click on each link to access the post):
- An Inside Look at Sullivan & Cromwell’s Recruiting Process: Curious about what OCI is like from the perspective of your interviewer? These documents, which an S&C attorney tossed in the garbage (where an ATL tipster found them), will enlighten you.
- Job Hunting Tips: Advice for both on-campus interviews and callbacks from Janet Stanton of JD Match.
- How to Nail the On-Campus Interview and How to Ace the Callback: Interview tips from Grover Cleveland, author of Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks (affiliate link).
To everyone going through OCI right now, good luck. There aren’t as many jobs out there as there were in 2007, but there are still jobs to be had — go get ‘em!
Earlier: Is Being A Partner The Worst Job In Biglaw?
Homegrown or Not: Law Student Recruiting v. Lateral Hiring
The Incredible Shrinking Biglaw Summer Associate Class Size
An Inside Look at Sullivan & Cromwell’s Recruiting Process