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…
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.”
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…
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…
Breaking news from the land of totally obvious statistics: the class of 2009 got rogered, but good.
The National Law Journal reports that the NALP numbers are out, and the statistics confirm what we all already know:
The median number of offers by U.S. law firms for 2010 summer associate positions was seven, according to statistics released Tuesday by the National Association for Law Placement. That was down from 10 offers in 2008 and 15 offers in 2007.
In fact, the offer rate was the lowest NALP has reported since the organization began gathering offer statistics some 17 years ago.
Only 36 percent of interviews last year resulted in summer associate offers, compared to 47 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2007.
On Friday we reported that, after months of discussion, NALP would be changing to the 45-day open offer period to a 28-day open offer period, and otherwise leaving fall recruiting to proceed much as it has been. Today, we’re learning why NALP decided to abandon more ambitious plans to actually make recruiting better for students, law schools, and law firms. Apparently, fundamental change is just too damn hard. The National Law Journal reports:
NALP Executive Director Jim Leipold said that the organization received 800 responses to the proposal since it was unveiled in early January.
“It became clear that there was no easy consensus or even a trend around one particular idea,” he said. “Law firms and law schools are both conservative and risk-averse institutions. The scope of change was very large and it doesn’t surprise me that there was resistance.”
I feel bad for Jim Leipold. It seems like a large part of his job involves running around explaining why his organization can’t actually do anything useful.
NALP stakeholders may be happy, but students are just as screwed as ever.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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