Emerging from one of the most dismal law firm recruiting seasons in years, law schools are preparing for what early signs indicate will be an improved job market for their students.

The annual ritual of on-campus interviews for positions as summer associates kicks off Thursday at Columbia Law School with its early interview program, which runs until Aug. 17. And in an encouraging sign for the legal job market, Columbia Law reports that the number of interviews law firms have agreed to conduct with second-year students has increased by 8 percent to 8,780.