Most Desirable Summer Associate Program Ranking Crowns New Top Destination

With summer programs right around the corner — in a lot of cases the first…

dog siesta on beach chairWith summer programs right around the corner — in a lot of cases the first “real” summer program since the pandemic began — Law360 Pulse once again asked law students which firm’s summer loving they most craved along with a number of other burning questions gauging what current law students think about summer programs going into 2022.

The survey, which you can get here, follows up last year’s findings declaring Latham as the preferred summer destination among respondents. This year’s survey of over 1100 law students — around half from the 1L ranks and the rest roughly evenly distributed between 2 to 1 between 2Ls and 3Ls) — has a new champion:

1. Kirkland & Ellis (Ranked #2 in 2021)
2. Latham & Watkins (#1 in 2021)
3. Cooley (#5 in 2021)
4. Skadden (#3 in 2021)
5. Sidley Austin (#10 in 2021)

The report ranks the top 33 responses (ties are involved).

The top two Biglaw firms in terms of revenue are also the top two firms in terms of summer love. Kirkland’s reportedly bringing on a summer class of over 500 this year, so you have to suspect the firm owes a little of this bump to law students seeing more opportunity. The poll question doesn’t require students to consider the availability of slots, but students preparing for OCI would be thinking about it and it could linger in the back of their brain when it comes to firms. I mean… maybe they haven’t even read up on a perfectly good firm that only takes 35 summers.

To get at that issue a bit, the survey also asked respondents to report where they ranked firms for OCI purposes:

1. Kirkland
2. Akin Gump
3. Latham
4. Jones Day
5. Sidley

Jones Day isn’t even in the top 10 of desirability and yet it’s getting a lot of interview requests. They must be serving Chick-fil-A.

As one might expect, questions surrounding the pandemic and its fallout proved the most informative for those of us trying to get a handle on the future of this industry.

After a few years away, most summer programs — even summer programs at firms claiming to adopt hybrid models going forward — are committed to getting summers into the office, presumably for all the mentoring and evaluation advantages that provides.

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Still, Kerry Benn, Director of Series, Surveys & Data at Law360 flagged that 37 percent remains a significant chunk of firms wary of calling off pandemic precautions prematurely. It’s hard not to see that as a reflection of where the applicants are:

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As firms move back to the office in one form or another, the figure to watch will be that 33 percent or so that rate this moderately to slightly important. How they cut over the coming years will go a long way toward shaping the future of legal offices.

Benn also told me that most respondents said they were interested in corporate transactional work… which is a little scary. Hopefully this is a reflection of students coming in during a hot cycle that will recalibrate if firms become too overloaded with personnel to support a sagging market. Or maybe the practice area will heat up again and this becomes moot. Either way it’s worth watching.

When it comes to interview success, the report ranks the schools that stood out:

1. Harvard University
2. Columbia University
3. New York University
4. University of California – Los Angeles
5. University of California – Berkeley

I’m always flummoxed at how many students seem shocked to learn that big market schools do better in big markets.

Finally, how are summers making decisions about firms these days?

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Law360 created this report so I assume they just fudged that extra 1 percent. We see you.

Again, the report is available here with no paywall. There are additional articles providing more analysis from Law360 Pulse here but paywalls become an issue.


HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.