Wednesday, February 25, 2009

how long

Someone asked how long this legal downturn is likely to last.  There's a reason we are lawyers and not investment bankers -- we really don't have a lot of foresight when it comes to the market -- but, based what I am hearing in the recruiting world, I think recruiting at the new hire and lateral stages will take longer to recover than the pick up in legal work.  This is because firms are finally being more conservative when it comes to new hires, salaries, bonuses, etc.  In my view, this is long overdue as too much hiring occurred even while economy was slowing, and many firms just tried to match each other on the crazed bonuses and salaries.  I bet if you ask many now, they would have taken less money for more job security.

in any event, firms are cracking down on hiring.  Many firms will not have a 2009 summer class or will significantly reduce the class and the program.  I predict there will be many "no offers" even for decent performers because firms will be afraid about bringing new hires on.  Fall 2009 recruiting will be a slow season. We will return to a time when only the stars are on relatively easy street.  If you are beyond, say, 25% in your class at a top 11-33 law school, it is going to be difficult.  This means that 2010 summer classes will be small.  I really don't see a pickup until after 2011.  Sorry for any depressing news here, but firms are definitely pulling back on new hires especially.

My friend, a headhunter, reports that associate lateral hiring is basically flat.  There are some specialists getting hired, but he has more or less moved his  whole practice to lateral partners. Partners with business are still able to move and he is moving plenty of them.  


Anonymous said...

I know you can only speak for your own firm, but how do firms really treat/view clerkships for hiring purposes? I have been hearing through sources like ATL and autoadmit that several firms have stopped hiring former clerks because they are too expensive because firms give out clerkship bounses and an associate class boost.

Also, can you provide additional insight on how you and other HPs really view clerkships? I always get the blanket "clerkships are great for your career" responses from my law school, but I was hoping you could quantify it somehow. How much does a clerkship compensate for class ranking or ranking of law school relative to other candidates applying for a job? For example, I did not get an offer at my law firm this summer (due to the economy), but I am clerking for a federal magistrate judge after graduation. While it is federal, I know it is not as prestigious as a district court, state supreme court, federal appeals court clerkship or even a bankruptcy court. Regardless of its prestige factor, I am definitely grateful that I have this clerkship and I am looking forward to the experience.

How much added value does a clerkship really provide (especially the "lesser" clerkships)? Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

HP, I have a separate hiring question that I thought you could help me with. I am a 1L at a top 5 law school w/ a 3.6GPA. I had a callback with a firm that went well, and I feel optimistic. However, I know the current climate so I know that the chance of me actually getting the position is not high. With that said, my question is this: If they tell me that they cannot hire me this summer, should I reply back that I will work for them for free if they give me a summer associate position? Is that even possible? Would they ever go for it? Does that show too much desperation/ will it hurt my chances next summer? I never wanted the firm job for the money, but more for the experience.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, HP. This was very helpful and informative. I know no one can predict with any degree of certainty now, but it helps to have at least some sense of where things stand, and where they might be headed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your insights HP. Do you have any thoughts for us 1Ls on what we can/should do now to make ourselves more marketable? What experiences, other than good grades/getting on a journal, are appealing in this horrible economy? Thanks again so much for your thoughts, even if they are depressing news.