There has been an explosion in demand for legal services since late 2020 with a surge in lateral hires in virtually every practice area.
But how have recent law school graduates from top schools fared in their efforts to secure entry-level associate positions at top law firms in the United States?
The Good News for the Law School Class of 2021 — employment rates rebounded significantly from the pandemic-induced crisis that hit the previous class, ending up stronger than they were two years ago.
New graduates are also reaping the benefits of accelerating law firm innovation over the past two years in their efforts to better recruit talent and retain employees.
This includes more flexible work environments, higher compensation, and more opportunities for education and advancement.
Laura Leopard, Founder and CEO of Leopard Solutions, says, “We all know what happened in 2020. In the midst of COVID, law firms simply hit the pause button. They haven’t hired a lot, they haven’t hired a lot of laterals, and they haven’t hired a lot of people out of law school either. So what we’re seeing here is they’re finally hiring the grads that were on break as well as the 2021 grads.”
But with this progress comes challenges – and opportunities – such as how to navigate this new “normal” and how to effectively manage teams and foster relationship building, networking and mentorship in a hybrid and remote work.
Junior associates of top law schools can also expect a flurry of calls from recruiters, as our research shows a high level of attrition from graduates of top 10 schools, as they are highly sought after. . Competition is therefore at the root of some of the low retention rates. we see.
Let’s dig into the numbers.
According to our research, in 2021, a total of 14,600 new lawyers joined law firms. Of these, 64% were hired at the top 200 companies and 36% went to companies outside the top 200. In 2021, there were 9,286 graduate hires at the top 200 companies. This is a dramatic increase from 2020 and 2019, which saw 4,093 and 6,296 hires respectively. While this growth is dramatic, we can assume companies are catching up and onboarding those impacted by the 2020 pandemic hiring pause while meeting their internal needs for additional support due to increased legal work.
How has the hiring of diverse candidates been affected?
More women than men now attend law school and enter law firms as new graduates. This was the case in 2021, with women making up 53% of hires in 2021. In the top 200 placements, ethnically diverse hires made up 28%.
It should be noted that while the top 200 has remained stagnant over the past three years, companies in the top 200 have gone from 20% representation to 23% representation, showing some progress in representation, even in an ultra environment. -competitive despite the fact that it has been even more difficult for firms beyond the top 200 to recruit and retain diverse candidates, as large law firms actively strive to hire more lawyers ethnically diverse, leaving less for the top 200 firms in court.