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If the size of summer associate programs is a measure of confidence in the legal market, New Jersey hiring partners must be happy as they gaze into the future. At 18 firms whose programs have been tracked by the New Jersey Law Journal, the number of summer associates rose to 167 from 138 in 1999, a 21 percent increase. Two of the 18 firms have fewer interns than last year, but in both those firms the number decreased by only one. See accompanying chart. It’s a market made for students, and recruitment coordinators at the firms noted that they are in competition with higher-paying New York and Philadelphia firms to find the highest academically ranked students. As a result of the competition, New Jersey firms appear to be hiring more first-year students, or 1Ls, than they used to. Until Roseland’s Lowenstein Sandler blazed the 1L trail two years ago, first-year students in New Jersey summer programs were as rare as a Memorial Day frost. This year, there are 28 1Ls, and at one partnership, Sills Cummis Radin Tischman Epstein & Gross in Newark, the 1Ls outnumber the 2Ls seven-to-six. The chief exception to the 1L phenomenon is Newark’s McCarter & English, which has one first-year student among its 18 summer associates. Placement advisers at two law schools attribute the number of first-year students at some firms to a strategy of giving potential associates in the top 5 or 10 percent of their academic classes a taste of New Jersey before their inevitable hiring at national firms in New York and Philadelphia between their second and last years of school. When it comes time to pick a permanent job, the student will have had experience with a New Jersey firm; if the lure of those $140,000-and-rising yearly salaries at the Skaddens and the Shearmans don’t woo them, maybe they’ll remember their fabulous experience the previous year with a Pitney or a Porzio. It’s a stretch, but the thinking among the firms is: “If they experience us, then we’ve at least got a foot in the door,” says Debra King, director of placement at Seton Hall University School of Law. “It’s an attempt to get the stars.” King and Mary Beth Daisey, director of career services at Rutgers Law School-Camden say that in the competition for students, firms would rather pick 1Ls with the highest academic credentials than lesser lights among the 2Ls. Finally, it could just be a question of needing bodies. “The firms have more positions to fill,” Daisey notes. Robert Max Crane, the hiring partner at Sills Cummis, says it’s a question of finding the most talented people and if many of them happen to be 1Ls, that’s fine. This year’s salaries also reflect the competition from the larger metropolitan areas. Weekly wages went up at 12 of the 18 New Jersey firms and for the first time, six partnerships hit the $1,600-or-better mark. On average, 2Ls in New Jersey are earning $87 more a week than last year’s crop, a 6 percent raise. The competition for students also seems to have had an effect on the mix of schools represented in the programs. Few 2Ls from Ivy League schools are summering in New Jersey this year, and the state’s three law schools dominate the list. Of the six 2Ls at Florham Park’s Pitney, Hardin, Kipp & Szuch, for example, two are from Seton Hall, two are from Rutgers Law School-Newark and there is one from Duke University School of Law, New York Law School and Pace University School of Law. The seven 1Ls are from Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers-Camden, University of Chicago Law School, Duke, Cornell Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Among the firms with the largest programs, Morristown’s Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti had one of the most successful out-of-state-student roundups. Among its 16 summer associates are two from the University of Virginia School of Law, two from Boston University School of Law and one from Northwestern University School of Law, Emory, Boston College Law School, Fordham University School of Law and Syracuse University College of Law. As usual, the programs will be a mix of research, supervised drafting and other hands-on experience, mentoring, pro-bono work and outside-the-office social activities. Representatives of several firms say the old smorgasbord approach to summer associates’ programs — if this is Tuesday, it must be trusts and estates — is out. Giving the students a chance to focus on the area of their choice is in. “We don’t do a rotation,” says Susan Lehner, the recruitment coordinator at Woodbridge’s Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith, Ravin, Davis & Himmel. The firm also sees to it that students go to court, real estate closings and municipal planning meetings. The luckiest group of summer associates are at Morristown’s Drinker, Biddle & Shanley, the Philadelphia-based firm that took over Shanley & Fisher last December. If the firm had remained independent, the 11 associates would probably be earning no more than $1,500 or $1,600. Instead, they are receiving the same $1,730 a week that Drinker, Biddle is paying summer associates in its Philadelphia headquarters. Besides sharing a salary, the Morristown and Philadelphia associates will share an outing: they’re going to a Phillies-Yankee game in July. Yes, big-league baseball games remain a staple of summer programs. Yet there appears to be a growing effort by firms to show associates — particularly the ones from out-of-state schools — that New Jersey has its own cultural life. The group at Riker, Danzig will go to the Meadowlands, see “Twelfth Night” at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival and go swimming in Lake Mohawk. Douglas Cohen, one of the associates who is running the internship program at Roseland’s Wolff & Samson, says the firm made a conscious effort to emphasize New Jersey activities. The five students will visit the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, see a Newark Bears baseball game and go to the Meadowlands racetrack. “We want them to experience the area,” Cohen says.

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