Texas’ largest firms have hired fewer first-year associates than they did a year ago. But most of those new associates are beginning their jobs this fall — the traditional starting season — rather than facing the three-month or longer deferrals thrust upon 2009′s class of first-years.

For example, in 2009 two large Dallas-based firms, Thompson & Knight and Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, deferred the start dates of their first-year associates for four months, until January 2010. This year both firms invited their new associates to begin their jobs in September.