Arnstein & Lehr is the latest Chicago law firm to say it will abandon its summer associate program next year, explaining that the difficulty of estimating its hiring needs two years in advance so it can extend some of those associates job offers is more trouble than the program is worth.

“For a firm our size, the crystal ball just isn’t good enough to tell us,” said Raymond Werner, chairman of the firm. “It’s really a predictability of needs issue.”

Arnstein & Lehr, a firm with 143 lawyers in nine offices mainly in Illinois and Florida, will focus instead on hiring associates who have had some experience at another firm, Werner said.

Law firms typically employ summer associates in the summer after their second year of law school, wooing them during the three months while they evaluate the students’ work. Afterward, the firms extend an employment offer to the associates they like for the following year, after the students have graduated.

Barnes & Thornburg also said recently that it would cease its summer associate program in the Chicago office, though it will continue in some of the firm’s other offices. That firm also noted the difficulty of planning for hiring needs so far in advance.

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