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Russell H. Falconer, a law student spending six weeks in the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins, has a mission: Get a job offer for the fall of 2009. Falconer grew up in Dallas and hopes to launch his legal career in his hometown after he graduates from the University of Texas School of Law in May 2009. “I’m trying to do the best job that I can to convince them that I would be a good person to have in the office,” says Falconer. He will also be spending six weeks this summer in the Dallas office of Haynes and Boone. This is Falconer’s second tour as a summer associate with V&E. “I think I’m less nervous, because I’ve been here before, and there are a lot of familiar faces,” he says. During the summer of 2007, “I felt more like a deer in the headlights, doing everything for the first time.” Falconer has one of the 948 summer associate positions available at 24 of Texas’ 25 largest firms. The number of Texas positions is down 8.9 percent from the 1,040 slots available to law students during the summer of 2007 at the same firms, according to Texas Lawyer‘s annual Summer Associates Survey. The 25 firms are identified on Texas Lawyer’s “The Texas 100” poster. Austin-based Brown McCarroll declined to participate in the Summer Associates Survey. [See related charts below.] The decrease in summer positions, when compared with the number of positions at the same firms in 2007, is the first decline in summer hiring since 2004. The decreased hiring indicates firms are being conservative about associate hiring in the near future, says recruiter Robert Rowland of Houston-based Associated Counsel of America. “These firms want to make offers to all their summer associates,” he says. “So the number they bring in has some correlation to the number of offers they plan to make. They are trying to project ahead and looking ahead to the economy and credit crunch in making their decision.” Rowland notes that litigation activity is down and transactions are declining or, for some firms, about to decline. “Transactions, if they haven’t gone down already, are expected to with the economy,” Rowland says. “There is some likelihood that if the economy gets really rough, there will be a lot of workout and bankruptcy and perhaps an uptick in litigation. But right now, there’s not much litigation. There is a real slowdown.” The firms with the largest decreases in their Texas summer associate classes include Hunton & Williams, Fulbright & Jaworski, Bracewell & Giuliani and Baker Botts.

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