Back in February of this year, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) announced a minor change to its recruiting guidelines. I was underwhelmed. New associates are graduating law school in a terrible job market, firms are sick of being forced to hire people two years before they know their staffing needs, and NALP is fiddling around with the open offer period? Make sure those deck chairs are properly arranged before we all drown!

A wise man once said: “This town needs an enema.”

Back in February I called for a complete overhaul of the fall recruiting process, and only the crickets heard me cry myself to sleep that night.

But today we’ve received word that a firm most of you have never heard of, and a school more known for its women’s basketball team than its law school, are teaming up to come up with a truly new approach to hiring law school graduates. Will it work? Will it catch on? At this point, who cares?

It’s a new idea — not some twice-baked, refried, reheated idea that wasn’t all that good the first time around….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A New Approach to Fall Recruiting”

Greetings, loved ones. Hello there, California girls (and boys). We hope that you’re doing well. Gay marriage might be on hold for now, but there are other unions to celebrate on the West Coast.

Like unions between law firms and job-seeking law students. As we’ve discussed in these pages before, on-campus interviewing at law schools seems to be on the upswing.

And it’s not just in New York, where schools like Columbia and NYU report increased interviewing activity. It’s happening in California too, as reported by Sara Randazzo and Kari Hamanaka of the Daily Journal:

Career counselors around the state are reporting that the number of employers signing on to the recruiting process this year is either steady or up slightly. The mood, however, is still tempered by the reality that the recruiting climate is nowhere near the fever pitch preceding the downturn when there were barely enough top law students to go around for associate-hungry firms.

“When I talk to lawyers in the field, it seems things are busier, but given all the excess in the hiring pipelines they are still very conservative,” said Terrence Galligan, assistant dean of career development at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Well, conservative can be good (and not just politically). The conservative hiring of summer associates for 2010, for example, seems to have resulted in very high offer rates.

For 2011, some firms that stayed on the sidelines in 2010 are back in the game….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Glitters in the Golden State”

I’ve been critical of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) in the past, but you have to give them credit for at least one thing: they have been tirelessly trying to make people understand that most lawyers do not make $160,000 a year straight out of law school.

In fact, NALP has been at the forefront of educating prospective lawyers on the dangers of focusing on “average” starting salaries. The average is meaningless. The median is just slightly more helpful, and NALP has been begging people to pay attention to the bimodal salary distribution curve that tells the true story of how much lawyers are likely to get paid.

And the bimodal curve is only useful if you are actually lucky enough to secure full-time employment. If you have to work part-time, God help you…

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This isn’t going to come as a galloping shock to anybody here, but the new NALP numbers confirm that the job market is terrible for young lawyers (aka the “lost generation”) :

Analyses of the NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2009 reveal an overall employment rate of 88.3% of graduates for whom employment status was known, a rate that has decreased for two years in a row, decreasing 3.6 percentage points from the recent historical high of 91.9% for the Class of 2007. The employment figure for the Class of 2009 also marks the lowest employment rate since the mid-1990s.

“There are dozens of reasons why the employment report for the Class of 2009 will be different than those that preceded it, and dozens of reasons why the data that has been gathered will require special explanation and analysis to make sense of it,” said NALP Executive Director James Leipold in commentary accompanying the Selected Findings. He noted that while the employment rate of 88.3% may seem stronger than expected, when the statistic is teased apart, it begins to reveal some of the fundamental weaknesses in the job market faced by this class.

Please, prospective law students, do not look at the 88% figure and start wetting yourself. There are a number of reasons to explain why employment statistics look as basically decent as they do…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New NALP Numbers Are Out — and as Bad as Ever”

I’m back in New York City — a place that has infinitely more Puerto Rican culture than a Hilton in Puerto Rico. But I still have a few more write-ups from the 2010 NALP Annual Education Conference. I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring back a little information for the hordes of lawyers laid off or shut out of Biglaw during the recession. Rest assured, you are not alone.

On Friday afternoon, I attended a panel called “The State of the Legal Economy and the Legal Employment Market.” This should have been the highlight event for the conference. The only panelist was James Leipold, Executive Director of NALP, and he was slated to talk about the hard numbers NALP has put together describing the recession. The panel was booked for the largest conference room in the hotel — the room easily sat 250 people.

Jim Leipold, of NALP

Total attendance = 12 people (I counted). The lesson: do not hold your executive summary panel at 3:30 on Friday in Puerto Rico.

Why was I there? That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m actually confused as to how I ended up covering a panel with 11 other attendees. The room was so cold (air conditioning for 250) that I’m convinced that when conference room air met the Puerto Rican humidity, it caused the tropical depression that hammered the Gulf Coast over the weekend.

In any event, I received some hard numbers for my trouble. And I got to hear Leipold’s thoughts on just how screwed the “Lost Generation” of would-be Biglaw associates are. Not good times, my friends.  Try not to finish your cup of hemlock before you hear the numbers…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “NALP 2010: NALP Executive Director James Leipold Talks to the ‘Lost Generation’”

We’re on to day 3 of the NALP conference. With all the racial tensions going on back home, day 3 has been a pleasant reminder that once properly tanned, everybody basically looks the same. Of course, there is a downside: I can no longer figure out which panelists may be genetically predisposed to say something intelligent.

Absent these helpful signals, I could only guess at which Friday morning panel to go to. I decided to hit Navigating Online Rumor Mills and Maintaining a Positive Image for Law Firms/Schools. Being a walking rumor mill myself, I figured it was worthwhile to learn how I should be handled.

For our partner readers, the panel produced some good advice. For our commenters, all I can say is that firms and law schools fear you guys. It’s not us, it’s you…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “NALP 2010: Dealing with Above the Law Online Media”

Day 2 of the 2010 NALP Annual Education Conference had a remarkably different feel from day 1. Apparently, it took everybody a day to realize that they were in Puerto freaking Rico. After really sticking to business casual on the first day, day 2 saw the introduction of something I’d call “business beachware.” Men were wearing t-shirts with their slacks. Women were wearing bathing suit tops instead of bras under their attire. Sandals abound. Everybody’s hair is messed up. Panelists stuck in suits look like they’re ready to kill themselves, or melt.

Anyway, you don’t come to me for fashion advice. You come to me to throw stones and rotten fruit for job advice. And today I’ve got that in spades. I attended a panel called Reading Between the Lines: A Candid Conversation about Resumes in Today’s Market. Good news: it doesn’t appear that anybody has an idea of how harshly to judge applicants with résumé gaps. So try not to worry…

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As you may have heard, I’m in Puerto Rico covering the 2010 NALP Annual Education Conference. There are so many panels and talks scheduled at precisely the same time that I’ve had to prioritize what will matter most to ATL readers. I’m tweeting about the conference, so if you want me to check something out, just let me know.

Sadly, I already decided to skip the “How to do a body shot when you’re 40″ break-out session. Instead, I went to “Recruiting in the Aftermath of the Recession.”

It was a fascinating talk. The panelists:

- Frank Kimball, Owner, Kimball Professional Management
- Helen Long, Director of Legal Recruiting, Ropes & Gray

I figured ATL readers would like to get a peek at this one because Kimball and Long were talking directly to firm recruiters about lateral hiring. I was not disappointed. During Kimball’s opening, he wondered if “some legal recruiter will say in 2013, ‘In order to gain the competitive advantage, let’s raise starting salaries to $185,000.’”

Meanwhile, Long predicted “The Lateral Hiring Crisis of 2013.” I don’t know who this 2013 person is, but I’d sure like to meet her.

But sadly, Kimball and Long predict that 2013′s potential bounty will fall on only a select few associates…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “NALP 2010: New Litigators be Warned”

While two of your ATL editors are stuck in unseasonably cold New York, Elie Mystal landed in Puerto Rico today to attend NALP’s Annual Education Conference. Judging from NALP’s website, it sounds like there was some controversy over the exotic location. They have a whole section devoted to “Why Puerto Rico?” (“It’s home to three NALP member law schools and a number of important legal employers.”)

Regardless, Elie is happy to be there, though also a little scared given some of the previous things he’s written about the organization. He’ll be filing posts based on sessions he attends, as well as covering the conference pithily in real time on the ATLblog Twitter feed.

Check out the conference schedule here and tweet at Elie and at ATL if there’s something you desperately want him to attend. Elie’s currently at the session on “Recruiting in the Aftermath of the Recession,” led by Frank Kimball of Kimball Professional Management and Helen Long, the director of legal recruiting at Ropes & Gray LLP. He tweets:

Recruiting in the aftermath of the recession. “aftermath”?? Yeah, this should be fun

Follow ATL on Twitter at atlblog. All of the editors of ATL are also on Twitter. Follow us at DavidLat, kashhill, and ElieNYC.

Earlier: We’re a Bunch of Tweeps

On Friday, we told you that NALP released its updated forms on firm offer rates. There is a wealth of information in the NALP data, and an Above the Law reader teased out the summer offer rate information:

I’m sure you’ve noticed, some firms only give NALP multi-office reports, some give multi-office reports in conjunction with their regular single-office reports, and others don’t use it at all, in addition to the domestic/international differences on some firms… Which is all to say that I might have inadvertently double-counted interns and offers at some firms without knowing about it, and the data may not always be parallel between different firms. However, the information from each firm is at least real and, I hope, comprehensive.

The reader compiled offer rate information for the top 50 firms according to Vault. You can really see an offer rate drop off in the bottom half of the Vault 50…

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