Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Advanced Search Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Pandemic Clobbers Job Starts for Law Graduates (1)

July 15, 2020, 9:23 PMUpdated: July 15, 2020, 10:14 PM

A significant number of 2020 law school graduates are having job offers withdrawn or delayed due to fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey shows.

Nearly half of the 167 schools participating in the National Association for Law Placement survey reported that graduates had employment offers rescinded and 85% of schools said most involved private practice.

Half of graduates didn’t have start dates when the survey was taken in the last half of June, and nearly two thirds of those who do won’t begin work until January, months after the traditional fall starting dates.

The data snapshot is one view of the legal sector that imposed strict austerity measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the U.S. economy. Big Law firms shifted to remote operations, reduced attorney and staff compensation, and imposed layoffs in some cases.

New graduates also face continuing uncertainty over bar exam schedules.

A survey of law offices, also conducted in late June and released by NALP, found that slightly more than two-thirds of offices with later start dates are offering first-year associates a stipend or other cash payment as part of the deferral package.

NALP findings also showed that newly minted graduates from law schools in the Southeast appear to have had a larger rate of withdrawn job offers than other regions, and law schools with more than 750 juris doctor students were most likely to report graduates with rescinded offers.

The largest firms were less likely to have set a start date for their incoming first-year associates. More than half had yet to do so compared to about a quarter of firms with 100 or fewer lawyers. Geographically, almost 92% of Silicon Valley firms had yet to establish a starting date for associates compared to 56% in New York City.

On the summer associate front, 87% of employers hosting such programs said they provided assistance to those selected to help them fully participate. Frequently, the firms provided a laptop. The next most popular items were meal assistance and flexible working hours.

The 2020 summer programs have mostly been shortened due to the impact of Covid-19, no matter how large the firm or where it is located, NALP said. And two-thirds of firm offices paid summer associates a pro-rated amount based on a reduced number of weeks.

(Updates with data on geographic impact, summer programs. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; John Crawley at