Law school students faced one of the roughest hiring seasons ever this summer, as firms cut their summer classes by an average of 44 percent, according to our Summer Hiring Survey. The 114 firms that responded to the survey hired an average of 31 summer associates this year, down from last year’s average of 55 associates. (The complete results of the survey are detailed in the chart below; the survey is arranged starting with the highest percentage drop year-over-year in the number of summer associates hired for 2010 on to the highest percentage growth.)

Some of the biggest cuts came from the top of The A-List. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom took the most severe hit in gross numbers, going from 223 summer associates in 2009 to 79 this year. Cravath, Swaine & Moore‘s summer class shrank by 81 percent to just 23 summer associates, the biggest percentage decrease in the survey — except for Ballard Spahr, which cut its summer program entirely. Skadden and Cravath declined to comment, and Ballard Spahr did not return calls for comment.

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