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Hiring and pay for Philadelphia summer associates has predictably increased to correspond with the strong economy and the recent wave of starting salary raises. But firms are still struggling with recruiting minority law students, according to The Pennsylvania Law Weekly’s recent survey of the firms with the 40 largest Center City, Philadelphia, offices. The hiring escalation can largely be attributed to the only two of the 23 responding firms that showed sizable increases — Dechert Price & Rhoads and Pepper Hamilton. Dechert, which has the largest Philadelphia office of any firm, not surprisingly also has the largest group of summer associates in town with 48. That number is up from its class of 35 last year. Pepper followed with 31, up from 20 in both 1999 and 1998. Aside from those two firms, no other firm had more than Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll’s 26, with only Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis (including five summer associates from Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Cramer & Jamieson) having more than 20. Glen Blumenfeld, the Dechert’s co-hiring partner, said the firm needs to account for clerkships, growth trends and attrition rates when it puts together its summer classes. He added that the 48 total includes seven 3Ls and five 1Ls. “A large percentage of our people go on to clerk,” Blumenfeld said. “Last year we had 24 2Ls, and 12 went on to clerk. Of the other half, let’s say we get an 80 percent acceptance rate, then we have 10 people. You just can’t assume that everyone will be with you the next fall.” Sharon Buckingham, Pepper’s director of associate development, said the firm followed up more aggressively this recruiting season than in years past. One example she mentioned was recruiting at the University of Virginia, one of the nation’s top law schools. Pepper Hamilton had stopped making recruiting trips to the school in recent years because, frustrated by its lack of success there, it did not feel it was worth the time and expense. But the firm returned this year, making on-campus visits and thorough follow ups. The result: three University of Virginia students will spend this summer at Pepper. “We tried to do some different things than in the past,” Buckingham said. “We paid more attention [to the recruits]. We wanted them to know just how much we wanted them with us. I don’t think we had as much interaction with them in the past. When I was recruited out of law school, you got a offer though a letter, and you responded, and that was it. Well, today you have to be a lot more aggressive than that.” Two firms have significantly smaller classes than in the recent past — Drinker Biddle & Reath and Saul Ewing Remick & Saul. Drinker dropped from 23 to 17 while Saul went from 16 to eight. In general, though, hiring has been relatively steady at most Philadelphia firms over the past three years. Statistics from 17 firms that provided The Pennsylvania Law Weekly with information from their past three summer classes show that the number of summer associates have gone up from a combined total of 220 in 1998, to 234 in 1999 and 259 in 2000. MINORITY RECRUITING The 23 participating firms for 2000 had a total of 325 associates. Of that group, 48 percent are women, but minority numbers remain low. Only 21 students are African-American (5 percent), six are Latino (2 percent), 20 are Asian-American (6 percent), and two are from other minority groups. “It’s not that offers are not being extended,” Hoyle Morris & Kerr hiring partner Lisa Salazar said. “They’re just not accepting, largely due to the fact that there are just so many different opportunities out there for them today.” Morgan Lewis hiring partner Joseph Costello said he found that virtually all the minority law students who turned the firm down, did so in favor of an opportunity in another city. With large firms only considering the top 10 percent to 20 percent of most law school classes and minority students only making up about 20 percent of each class, firms find themselves fighting over the same small group of minority candidates, he said. “We are aggressively recruiting out of minority student organizations, and our minority partners are using all their contacts all law schools,” Costello said. “The problem is that it is a relatively small group, and every firm in town wants them.” Blumenfeld said he has not seen a tremendous number of minority candidates, specifically black students. Aside from recruiting more aggressively within minority student organizations and using its minority partners in that process, he believes the firm’s associates can help in the effort. “It’s frustrating because we’re just not seeing the minority candidates to the extent we’d like,” Blumenfeld said. “And I’m sure they’re there. But I’m optimistic [for the future] because we have some wonderful associates who are just great recruiters.” In the wake of the massive associate salary increases over the past 18 months, there has been a spirited debate in the local legal community over whether the increased pay will help lure out-of-town students or just be a waste of money. Those who argued the latter said students will only gravitate toward Philadelphia firms if they have some sort of local connection. The survey found that 54 percent of this year’s summer associates were raised in the Delaware Valley (not including those attending a local college or law school or with recent work experience). The hiring partners and professionals were mildly — and pleasantly — surprised with that statistic. “It’s lower than what I thought, and I think it says a lot about the city,” Costello said. “I went to Stanford and came back to Philly in 1985, and at that time, it was really hard to sell the city. Now it’s seen as a more vibrant place to practice and live. I think [former mayor] Ed Rendell deserves a lot of credit for that. The city has become a viable alternative to New York and Washington.” Blumenfeld said Dechert has three summer associates from Brigham Young University law school who had never set foot in Philadelphia before this summer. Such students are great news for Center City firms, he said. “If you asked that question 10 years ago, you would have had a higher number from the Philadelphia area,” Blumenfeld said. “I think there were a lot of people who said Philadelphia firms didn’t need to raise salaries because the only ones who work here are those who grew up here. I think a number like that explains why we did what we did.” As for those salaries for summer associates, they have risen by an average of $244 a week from 1999. Some firms decided to readjust summer salaries this spring to correspond with the recent changes in first-year pay. But a significant number of firms decided to keep the summer salaries at a level that equaled first-year pay before the recent raises. Drinker Biddle has the highest weekly pay at $2,019, followed by Dechert and Blank Rome at $2,000, Saul Ewing at $1,925 and Ballard Spahr, Morgan Lewis and Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen at $1,900. Other firms, such as Duane Morris & Heckscher and Pepper Hamilton, opted to not readjust their salaries from the $1,730 figure set this winter — equivalent to about $90,000 a year. “We had long conversations [earlier this spring] when we were considering what to do with our first-year salaries,” Buckingham said. “But not with the summer salaries. There just wasn’t much inclination to change it.” The survey also took a look at where last year’s summer associates are today. Of the 19 firms that had summer programs in 1999, seven made offers to all of their summer associates. Four firms, Buchanan Ingersoll, Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin, Hoyle Morris and Saul Ewing, had 100 percent acceptance rates. Citywide, about 60 percent of the candidates accepted offers to start in the fall, 19 percent declined, 10 percent accepted but deferred while completing a clerkship, and 11 percent deferred their decision until completing a clerkship or another program. The following firms declined to participate in the survey: Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, Post & Schell, Margolis Edelstein, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzberg & Ellers, Woodcock Washburn Kurtz Mackiewicz & Norris, Stevens & Lee, Lavin Coleman O’Neil Ricci Finarelli & Gray, Christie Pabarue Mortensen & Young, Weber Goldstein Greenberg & Gallagher and Swartz Campbell & Detweiler. Four other firms, Rawle & Henderson, Berger & Montague, German Gallagher & Murtagh, Harvey Pennington Cabot Griffith & Renneisen, do not have summer programs.

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