What are associates thinking about these days? Ha. It’s the economy, silly. Law firm layoffs fill the headlines, first-year classes are being delayed, and senior associates are left wondering about their real chances for partnership.

In this environment, a lot of associates are out there looking for jobs. What does that mean for those struggling to stand out amid the crowd? Legal Times associate opinion editor Robert Rogers contacted attorney search consultants in the Washington, D.C., area to find out. He also approached career specialists at law schools. Here’s what these experts had to say. (Answers were edited for length and clarity.)