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PANDEMIC

Employment offers pulled and start dates for law grads uncertain

Law schools are reporting rescinded employment offers and law firms report uncertainty about associate start dates. These are key findings from a second round of pulse surveys conducted by the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP) about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. legal employers, law schools, and JD students. In May 2020, NALP began conducting a series of short “pulse” surveys, releasing the first round of results in June. The surveys are designed to quantify the rapidly evolving changes in the industry.

Key findings from the second round of surveys, conducted from June 18-30, 2020, are included in the report. In total, 356 offices completed the legal employers survey, of which 264 held summer programs in 2020, and 167 schools completed the law schools survey. A third set of surveys went out in late July.

Key findings for law schools include:

· Nearly half (49%) of schools reported that some of their Class of 2020 graduates had their post-graduate employment offers rescinded. Schools in the Southeast region (58%) and those with more than 750 JD students (61%) were most likely to report graduates with rescinded offers.

· Rescinded offers were reported most frequently in private practice, with 85% of schools* reporting graduates with rescinded offers in this sector. (*Of schools reporting graduates with rescinded offers.)

· 69% of schools that offer post-graduate fellowship funding reported that their funding for the Class of 2020 was flat in comparison to the Class of 2019 and only 13% reported increased funding.

· Nearly half (49%) of law schools have invested in new or increased technology for virtual counseling, interviews, and meetings, and 21% are still considering such additional investments.

· Of those law school career services offices (CSOs) that have determined their operation plans for fall 2020, 61% plan to operate via a hybrid model (e.g., provide some services in-person and some remotely).

· Half (50%) of law school CSOs experienced budget cuts between March 15 – June 30, 2020 and 58% anticipate budget cuts for the upcoming year (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021). Schools in the West/Rocky Mountain region (64%) were most likely to report budgets cuts in spring 2020 and schools in the Midwest (64%) and Northeast (63%) regions were most likely to anticipate budget cuts in the upcoming year.

· 14% of law school career services offices have experienced staff furloughs or layoffs since March 15, 2020.

Key findings for legal employers include:

· 87% of legal employers hosting a fully or partially remote summer program provided resources or accommodations to summer associates to ensure that they could fully participate in the program. Laptops (68%) were most popular, followed by meal assistance (39%), and flexible working hours (32%).

· 95% of offices shortened the length (in weeks) of their summer programs in 2020. As previously reported in NALP’s May pulse surveys, the most popular summer program length in 2020 is 5-6 weeks (64%) and the most popular summer program length in 2019 was 10 weeks (71%).

· Two-thirds (67%) of offices that shortened the length of their summer program paid summer associates a pro-rated amount based on the reduced number of weeks that they are now working.

· Half (50%) of offices with Class of 2020 first-year associates have not yet established start dates for these associates.

· Of offices with established start dates, 62% have scheduled first-year associates to begin in January 2021.

· 69% of offices that have deferred start dates for first-year associates are offering a stipend or other cash payment as part of the deferral package.

· 35% of offices were already partially re-opened or planned to reopen by the end of June 2020, but 39% were still unsure of when they would begin to partially re-open.

· 70% of offices reported that lateral recruiting of associates declined from March 1, 2020 – May 31, 2020 in comparison to the same time period last year; however, 54% of offices reported that lateral recruiting of partners was about the same as last year.

· 62% of offices reported implementing salary reductions and/or delays in partner draws since March 1, 2020. Equity partners were most likely to be impacted (97%) in these offices.

· 76% of offices that implemented salary reductions did not reduce the dollar amount of their summer associates’ weekly pay.

Read more about the survey results at www.nalp.org/2020_pulse_surveys.

 

 

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