For this year’s summer law clerks, 2010 is likely to go down as the year of the even leaner, meaner summer program. Like their predecessors last year, this year’s summer class got a stark reminder of the heavy toll the recession has taken on the legal business, as many top law firms continued to cut back the length of their summer programs, from 12 weeks to 10 or, in some cases, 10 weeks to eight — if they had summer programs at all.

And in 2010, the size of summer classes was also down significantly from last year, as many firms scaled back their recruiting efforts, knowing they’d have far fewer full-time associate jobs to fill.