COVID-19 Forcing Firms To Rescind Job Offers To Grads

By Michele Gorman
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Law360 (July 16, 2020, 4:22 PM EDT) -- In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, almost half of law schools that participated in a recent survey said that some of their 2020 graduates had their job offers reneged — mostly from law firms — and nearly two-thirds of legal employers said they've reduced compensation over the past few months, according to data released on Wednesday.

Of the law schools aware that some employers had rescinded offers to their graduates because of the pandemic, 85% said it was affecting people heading to firms, followed by about 25% that said the same about government roles and 16% about business positions, according to the findings from the National Association for Law Placement Inc.

The data comes from NALP's second round of "pulse" surveys that it is performing to learn more about the impacts of the pandemic on U.S. legal employers, law schools and law students.

The organization invited all of its U.S. employer members to complete the survey. While the vast majority of legal employer respondents are law firms, other legal employers might have also recorded responses.

NALP found that, since the beginning of March, 62% of legal employers cut pay and/or delays in partner draws, with equity partners experiencing the greatest impact at 97%, followed by non-equity partners at nearly 80%, and non-lawyer staff and associates at almost 79%.

While just over half of the employers in the survey said partner lateral recruitment was similar to 2019, 70% of offices reported a decline in associate lateral recruitment from March 1 to May 31 compared to the same period last year, NALP found.

For those whose job offers still stand, about half of the employers in the survey said they haven't yet settled on start dates for their 2020 first-year associates, according to NALP. Meanwhile, of the offices with confirmed start dates for those associates, 62% are looking to January, 15% to September and 10% to February.

Nineteen percent of responding offices that have established start dates for recently graduated associates said they didn't change the start dates, and no employers reported a start date beyond February, according to the data.

There's a silver lining for the first-year associates whose start dates have been moved: 69% of offices with deferred start dates said they're providing a deferral package that includes a stipend or other cash payment, according to NALP.

NALP conducted its most recent survey between June 18 and June 30, and it includes 356 legal employers and 167 schools.

NALP's first pulse survey released in June found the pandemic wasn't stopping the vast majority of firms' summer associate programs from taking place.

A third set of surveys is taking place this month.

--Editing by Nicole Bleier.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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