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At 8:05 p.m., the temperature is still a sauna-like 97 degrees. Summer associates cluster around the deep blue swimming pool at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice partner Robert F. Cook’s home in northwest Atlanta, noshing on Caribbean-inspired hors d’oeuvres and outsweating their Coronas. They’re engaging in the cheery, yet slightly nervous social banter that reveals this is more than a party. It’s a job interview where everyone wears leis. It’s a three-hour chance — in a three-month summer full of chances — to turn a $1,750-a-week gig into a full-time career. Though these law students already are ahead of some of their classmates — they’re spending the summer at one of the top 100 firms in the nation — some still admit to sweating over more than the summer heat. After years of being able to name their price and take their choice of firms, the tables have turned for summer associates. Of the 18 firms contacted for this story, 13 have smaller summer classes this year than last. In 2001, they hosted 483 summer associates; this year, the number fell 16 percent to 404. Also, six of the firms shaved a week or more off their summer programs. For some firms, the cuts were a natural variance in program plans and offer and acceptance rates. For others, they’re an acknowledgement that the economy has undercut their need for new graduates in 2003. DIMINISHED EXPECTATIONS Jill M. Girardeau, a rising 3L at Georgetown University who split her summer between Womble Carlyle and the Atlanta office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, wants to be a corporate and securities attorney. But, she said, “The way it’s been going, I’ll be happy just to have a job.” Girardeau, who attends the No. 14 law school in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, said economic anxiety infects even her classmates: “Most people have jobs, but they’re not the jobs they wanted.” With jobs at firms harder to get, Rachael B. Schell, director of career services at Mercer University’s law school, said more students are opting for government jobs or clerkships. “I would not say that they’re sacrificing or settling,” she said. According to Leslie M. Mathis, a rising 3L at Alston & Bird, another Am Law 100 firm, her law school classmates at Emory University began to get nervous about jobs last fall, when some firms canceled on-campus interviews in the wake of Sept. 11. Though Alston & Bird told its summer associates on their first day that each had the potential to get an offer, there’s still a bit of caution in the class. “People are more reserved socially, making sure they don’t step out of line or say the wrong thing,” she said. “We’ve worked so hard that we don’t want to lose what we’ve got.” Though hiring partners and recruiters insist there’s always room for top achievers with good grades and go-getter personalities, firms all over the country have slashed their summer 2002 classes: � In the San Francisco area, eight of the city’s top firms cut their summer classes by a total of 37 percent; � Chicago’s 40 largest firms hired 22 percent fewer summer clerks; � At 18 New Jersey firms, the number of 2Ls fell 18 percent, and the number of 1Ls fell 35 percent; � In Philadelphia, the 25 largest firms cut summer hiring by 16 percent; � In Texas, the state’s 24 largest firms hired 15 percent fewer clerks; � In Washington, eight of the city’s big firms cut their summer classes by a total of 10 percent; and � The top 25 New York firms cut summer associate ranks by 9 percent. All data come from sister publications of the Daily Report, with the exception of the Chicago information, which is from the Chicago Lawyer. Several Atlanta firms made major cutbacks in their summer associate programs. Kilpatrick Stockton cut its class almost in half, with 25 students in Atlanta this year, compared with 49 last year. It also shaved a month off its summer, cutting a 16-week program to 12. Paul V. Lalli, Kilpatrick’s firmwide hiring partner, said that though the economy had some effect on summer hiring, it wasn’t the main reason for the smaller class size. Rather, last year’s 49-member class was the result of a higher-than-expected acceptance rate, he said. Kilpatrick also is the only area firm that, when it extends the offer of summer work, also offers students permanent employment. As a result, the firm’s program focuses more on training than on evaluation, and it’s tough to train such a large class for four months. Even when the economy improves, Lalli said his firm is unlikely to go back to 40-to-50 member classes. With the smaller class size and shorter program, Kilpatrick could save an estimated $871,200. Lalli didn’t confirm that number, saying only that although he hadn’t run the numbers, there was a major cost savings. Morris, Manning & Martin also cut its summer program headcount, from 24 to 15. “We have eliminated a lot of what we thought was excessive spending on the summer program,” said Lauren Z. Burnham, the partner in charge of law school recruiting. “Maybe some of the more extravagant parties have been pared back. … We found a lot of places where we were wasting money on the summer program.” The firm now requires financial pre-approval before summer associate outings, which Burnham said has resulted in significant savings. “I’m sure we’ve saved thousands of dollars,” she said. “We don’t have the bargain basement program. … It’s still a very nice program.” At Hunton & Williams, hiring partner Scott M. Ratchick said the economy prompted his firm to cut its Atlanta summer hiring from 20 students last year to 11 this year. The firm also trimmed two weeks off the summer. Ratchick said the program has stayed about the same, and the firm added a weekend in Washington, where summer associates visited the U.S. Supreme Court. Summer associate Evan Stogner, whose aunt knows Justice Clarence Thomas, even managed to engineer a 45-minute meeting with the justice, according to Ratchick. Sherri M. Knight, director of professional development at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, said the economy changed her firm’s summer plans. “We cut our program in half,” she said. “We went from 33 last year, firmwide, to 17 this year.” The firm also shortened its program from 14 weeks to 12. That had more to do with students’ academic schedules than with finances, she said, “But the economics of it were nice, too.” According to Knight, student events were more interesting as a side benefit of a smaller program. For example, the firm flew them on client Air Tran to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. Also, she said, “We went back to small parties at partners’ houses, as opposed to very large parties that were held … at a country club or large restaurant. It was a little more intimate, where you could have some more-detailed conversations instead of just the more surface cocktail party, ‘Hi, how are you?’ “ SUMMER PAY One thing firms haven’t cut is summer associates’ weekly pay. Only four of the 18 firms surveyed raised pay, however. Jones Day, which offers the highest compensation in the survey, raised salaries from $2,000 to $2,125. Ford & Harrison moved from $1,400 to $1,600; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart rose from $1,300 to $1,500; and Alston & Bird went from $1,750 to $1,800. One partner at a large firm, who requested anonymity, said the pay system used by law firms is a liability in a down economy. Corporations, for example, have long engineered pay packages to shift with profits and the economy by using bonuses and deferred compensation instead of straight salary. Under this model, young professionals who in flush times made six figures, now make, say, $65,000 and have worthless stock options, according to the partner. Many large law firms, however, have promised first-years $100,000 or more — regardless of market conditions — and can’t backtrack without risking a loss of reputation or rumors of financial trouble. “Law firms in this economy, they’re paying more than the market dictates,” the anonymous partner said. “People are mad at them [the associates]. … Don’t get mad at them. They didn’t strike. They didn’t set the salaries. We did.” ON-CAMPUS HIRING Those high salaries — and firms’ inability to lower them without losing face — will be one factor influencing on-campus hiring this fall. Most of the Atlanta firms surveyed said they hadn’t decided yet how many summer associates they would hire. But nationwide, a National Association for Law Placement study of 96 legal employers showed about a quarter planned to scale back on-campus recruiting. Another quarter said they were considering cutbacks. Career services directors at the law schools at Mercer, the University of Georgia and Emory, however, all said they haven’t seen much change between 2001 and 2002 in the number of firms registered for campus visits. Naomi K. McLaurin, assistant dean for career services at Emory, said that after Sept. 11, some firms canceled their visits. Though 126 registered last year, only 107 came, she said. So far this year, 106 have registered. “I’m not panicking. … Obviously, we’re sort of holding our own given the economy,” McLaurin said. But she acknowledged that her office has worked harder to hold its own. Late last year, the office mailed recruiting information to 7,000 employers around the country and contacted alumni, urging them to recruit on campus, she said. According to NALP statistics, slightly more than 1 percent of firms surveyed said they wouldn’t recruit on campus at all this year; another 10 percent said they’d considered canceling campus visits. One local firm, Fisher & Phillips, is considering pulling back from first-year hiring. Though the firm will hire first-years from this year’s summer class as usual, going forward, Managing Partner Roger K. Quillen said, “We are re-examining the question of whether we should be doing so much hiring fresh out of law school. Like most traditional firms, we assumed it was the best thing to do, to hire people straight out of law school and to train them and hope they’d be with us the rest of their careers.” The idea has nothing to do with the economy, he said. Rather, the firm has learned that laterals — who’ve seen what other firms are like — tend to come and stay, while those hired straight out of law school are more likely to leave. POSITIVE SIDE EFFECTS For firms that plan to continue entry-level hiring, the buyer’s market for summer associates has positive side effects: a more qualified and more diligent talent pool. According to Peter J. Genz, the hiring partner at King & Spalding, “With the dot-com bust, other opportunities were limited. We had some really top people that had been at consulting companies, or that were considering companies like McKinsey [a management consulting firm]. … Those people freed up, and in general, I think that, coupled with the cutback by other firms, we got better talent.” The economy has played a role in summer associates’ work ethic as well, he said: “You just see a more disciplined and determined attitude among summer associates. They’re more aggressive at seeking out work.” Morris, Manning’s Burnham said she has noticed a change in attitude because of the economy, even among 1Ls. “They’re a little bit more down to business, maybe, than in the past couple of summers,” she said. “I think their expectations are not as high. … They’re definitely hoping for a permanent offer, not expecting it.”

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