Summer associate hiring down last year amid sluggish legal market

Alas, it looks like 2012 was not the best year for law firm summer associate hirings.

The median and average numbers of summer associate offers to 2Ls dipped a little bit according to NALP (formerly the National Association for Law Placement). Also down: the percentage of interviews resulting in the offer of a summer associate position.

“We have seen some faltering in recruiting volumes this past fall, and that reflects the continuing faltering in the larger legal economy,” NALP executive director Jim Leipold told The National Law Journal. “If you read the client advisories coming from some of the private banks that are involved in law firm financing, it’s clear that 2013 is not likely to be dramatically better.”

Leipold predicted that law firms will remain cautious about hiring summer associates in 2013.

Last year was also the fourth consecutive year law firms pulled back on filling entry-level positions. The lowest point for summer associate hiring remains 2009, when just 36 percent of 2L interviews led to offers. But those numbers have been inching back up and reached 46 percent in 2011. And last fall, 44 percent of callback interviews led to employment offers.

The hiring outlook also remained grim for 3Ls. A mere 19 percent of law firm offices said they considered 3Ls last fall, and only 280 callback interviews given to 3Ls led to just 82 job offers. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of 2012 summer associates got jobs from the firms for which they’d worked. That did, however, represent a 1 percent drop from 2011.

So Maryland law students: how is your summer associate job hunt going? And lawyers: Are your firms offering more summer associate positions this year? Comment below or hit me up ( or on twitter (@TDRBeth).

Law firm holiday party tops the charts

Work holiday parties are slowly coming back this year after the number of offices holding festive fêtes fell steadily over the last few years. Only 74 percent hosted parties last year, but this year the number is up to 91 percent.

Most people are excited when their office holiday parties have an open bar. But those employees do not work for The Lanier Law Firm.

The firm, which has offices in Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Palo Alto, had country music superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill perform at their company holiday gathering last weekend, The Houston Chronicle reported.

The firm is known for its elaborate Christmas parties — at the party in Houston, the country music power couple performing their love duet, “Like We Never Loved At All,” before splitting off and performing a solo set each, singing many of their big hits for over an hour.

Attendees were certainly living like they were dying as the party also offered “carnival rides, inflatable playground playthings and a food tent filled with fajitas and barbecue.”

And, as if that were not enough, the former vice president of Guatemala and a world-renowned heart surgeon spoke at the party, which raises funds for his mission to supply and staff health clinics in impoverished countries.

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

It’s all about the money this week in In-House Interrogatory.

An article in Corporate Counsel discusses general counsels’ opinions of alternative fee arrangements.

A study by ALM Legal Intelligence found that the number of in-house legal departments using alternative fee arrangements has slowly risen since 2008 while the billable hour has been on the decline. Only 26 percent of legal departments like the arrangements, however, the study found.

Many think that the alternatives are not a huge hit because departments have not acclimated to them yet.

“For corporate counsel,” one legal counsel told Corporate Counsel, “the easiest route is to have an hourly rate, and to get into an AFA takes effort at the beginning.”

So, here’s our question for you:

Has your legal department discussed alternative fee arrangements, and, if so, what has the discussion centered around and what are the pros and cons of such arrangements?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • Pepco Holdings Inc. named a new general counsel.
  • Louisiana State University’s general counsel resigned.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for a new general counsel.
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  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
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Judge dismisses employment numbers lawsuit

It’s not looking good for law school students suing their alma maters for misrepresenting post-graduation employment numbers.

Since employment for law school graduates started to slide with the downturn of the economy, a number of class-action suits have popped up around the country as students claim schools skewed graduates’ employment numbers to attract new students.

The latest setback for these kinds of cases came last week when a federal judge in Michigan dismissed a case brought against the Thomas M. Cooley Law School by 12 graduates. The judge rejected claims of fraud, saying the employment numbers were confusing and unclear but not fraudulent. The judge also said the school did not violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, since the act doesn’t protect the purchase of an education.

A similar case was dismissed in New York in March, but there are 12 other fraud class-action suits against law schools pending across the country.

The news comes in the wake of new employment numbers for law schools released last month. The statistics were divided by the type of employment for the first time this year. Nationwide, 83 percent found employment, but only 55 percent were permanent jobs that required bar admission. (At both Maryland law schools, around 47 percent found permanent jobs with bar admission required.)

No money, mo problems

Looks like more bad news this week for law school graduates.

Starting salaries for the class of 2011 are down across the board. Mean starting salaries for first-year associates fell 6.5 percent, according to numbers from the National Association for Law Placement.

The class of 2010 was paid a mean salary of $84,111, while the class of 2011′s mean salary was $78,653, according to the data. Mean salaries fell 15 percent compared to the class of 2009, which reported a mean salary of $93,454.

The median salary fell from $63,00 to $60,000 between 2010 and 2011,  according to the data.

Last month, we wrote about law school graduate employment numbers falling across the country, including for law school grads in Maryland. Fewer than half of the state’s law school graduates from the class of 2011 have full-time, permanent jobs, according to American Bar Association data released in June. Both Maryland law schools, the University of Baltimore School of Law and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, had numbers that fell below the national average of 55 percent.

Then there’s that Boston law firm that advertised a first-year associate position with $10,000 salary.

So, per this week’s news, not only are fewer recent law school grads finding jobs, those who have, are getting paid less. But, hey, at least it’s Friday?

Where are all of the jobless law school grads?

Recent law school grads looking for work, I know you’re out there.

I know this because although the legal market has improved since it hit rock bottom, it isn’t getting that much better for new grads. And I know that because the New York Times said so (and so have many others in town).

The local law schools — University of Maryland and University of Baltimore — don’t want to give me your names, and I can understand that. They want me to highlight all of the great people coming out their schools who have wonderful jobs.

But I can’t write the full story about the entry-level job market without talking to some of you who are still looking for jobs. It’s that simple.

I’m appealing to you to get in touch with me, so your voices can be heard. And, hey, you never know what could happen. One of our readers just might need a person like you to come on board.

‘Right-sizing’ Baltimore

On a day Baltimore (and beyond) remembers William Donald Schaefer, perhaps it’s fitting a comprehensive, statistical report about the city he loved was released.

The verdict of the Baltimore Neighborhood Alliance-Jacobs France Institute at the University of Baltimore? The city is “right-sizing.” I’ll let Matthew Kachura, the author of “Vital Signs 9,” explain:

“Right-sizing” means that the city’s expectations are in line with what can and should be expected of it. Baltimore’s population is not going to bounce back to its post-war highs, and the kind of industry boom we saw here in the 1940s and ’50s is not going to return. Instead, we’re showing resiliency by strengthening our neighborhoods in ways that improve the quality of life, whether it’s a program to rehab vacant houses or an effort to encourage high school students to graduate on time. In an era of limited resources, the city has managed to stay viable by these and dozens of other strategic investments. Based on what we’re seeing in the data, Baltimore has been experiencing some improvements during these tough times.

Not sure how the former mayor would feel about that assessment. Nevertheless, here are some of the numbers from the report:

  • The city’s population was more than 635,000 in 2009, down 2.4 percent from 2000.
  • The number of homes in foreclosure jumped 60 percent between 2008 and 2009, and the total is double the number from 2005.
  • The teen birthrate fell from 83.3 teens out of 1,000 in 2000 to 60.1 teens per 1,000 in 2009.
  • Median household income increased nearly 30 percent between 2000 and 2009, although it fell between 2008 and 2009 to just under $39,000.
  • The violent crime rate fell, from 26.2 violent offenses per 1,000 people in 2000 to 15.3 in 2009.
  • Juvenile arrests on drug charges declined between 2000 and 2009, as did the number of high school students who dropped out of high school.

Law blog roundup: Ben Matlock offers the best defense

Still wish you were on vacation? Most of your co-workers out for week? Here’s some “work” you can do to pass the time:

Tuition holds the line at UM Law

It seems students at the University of Maryland School of Law have already gotten a great present this holiday season: no tuition increase next year. This despite other schools within the University of Maryland, Baltimore seeing an average tuition increase of 4 percent for the 2011-2012 year.

UPDATE 12/17/10: A UMB spokesman reminded me that a tuition freeze does not happen just because the law school announces it. Tuition rates have to be approved by the Board of Regents, a vote that follows the General Assembly’s approval of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget.

In a memo to all UMB students about tuition and fees, published yesterday at Above the Law, President Jay Perman said the one-year freeze at the law schools was made “due to unique and striking changes in the economic environment for the legal profession.”

Law school Dean Phoebe Haddon, in a subsequent memo to law students also in ATL, elaborated:

Holding tuition at the current level in the upcoming academic year has been a top priority for me. The impact of the economic downturn on the legal employment market, combined with the large amount of debt many of you carry, has caused the faculty and administrators of the Law School great concern. Relative to the other professions, the legal sector has been especially hard hit, with tens of thousands of law jobs lost. Many of us also believe that this downturn is resulting in a fundamental restructuring of law practice that will require careful financial planning for all of us going forward.

Haddon added that the law school will make-up its shortfall to UMB by dipping into its short-term savings.

“I have been actively meeting with supportive alumni, friends and foundations seeking financial support so that the fund balance will be replenished,” Haddon wrote.

Calling UM Law alumni: Does the tuition freeze make you more likely to donate to your alma mater? Less likely? Or does it not affect your decision at all?

Top 5: Pizza Boli franchisee under fire

Supreme Court rulings, the National Football League, consumer class-action suits, an attorney disbarred and cold pizza — last week’s most-read stories written by The Daily Record’s legal team cover many of the touchstones of the modern-day news diet.

1. Pizza Boli wants D.C. franchisee to go
A federal judge in Baltimore is likely to order a former longtime Pizza Boli’s franchise in Washington D.C., to significantly change the way it does business and may even shut it down for a time.

2. Supreme Court rejects McCrary case, others
The Supreme Court turned aside a host of petitioners Monday, including some of the defendants in retired Baltimore Raven Michael McCrary’s long-running insurance fraud case.

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