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Nineteen of King & Spalding’s 82 summer associates in Atlanta didn’t get offers to join the firm this year, breaking a six-year trend in which the firm invited almost all of its summer class to stay. But King & Spalding said the longer list of uninvited young lawyers doesn’t reflect a more conservative hiring posture. Actually, the firm made more hiring offers than usual, but drew from a larger summer class. While some other firms across the country “pulled back substantially” on hiring, King & Spalding created a larger hiring pool, said Peter J. Genz, who headed King & Spalding’s summer program and was its hiring partner until recently. Poor economic conditions created a more attractive talent pool, he explained, and the firm saw this as “a great hiring opportunity.” “We had a large class of strong people,” Genz said. “We ended up making probably more offers than would be typical.” Despite not giving offers to 19 people in Atlanta, the firm said it still had a strong year for offers of permanent employment. Richard A. “Doc” Schneider took over as King & Spalding’s hiring partner in August. He said 63 offers is high for the firm, but he added that it’s unlikely the firm will make that many offers to next year’s summer class. According to recruiting materials distributed by King & Spalding last fall, the firm made offers to about 95 percent of each summer associate class for six straight years. This year, King & Spalding offered jobs to about 80 percent of the summer associates in its U.S. offices. In King & Spalding’s New York office, 20 of 22 summer associates — 91 percent — received offers for permanent employment, said Schneider. All 13 in the Washington office received offers, and seven of 11 — 64 percent — in Houston got offers. This year’s offer rate here was about 78 percent. When it came time to make hiring decisions, Genz said, the firm asked each practice group to evaluate the summer associates. Typically, summer associates work in three practice groups and keep binders filled with descriptions of their projects. BETTER APPLICANT POOL CITED In July, Genz told the Fulton County Daily Report that the economy had effectively created a better applicant pool for 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 [the management consulting firm]. … Those people freed up, and in general, I think that, coupled with the cutback by other firms, we got better talent,” Genz said. Because King & Spalding recruits from law schools nationwide, cutbacks elsewhere can affect its own hiring. And firms around the country reduced their hiring for last summer: � 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 came from sister publications of the Daily Report, with the exception of the Chicago information, which is from the Chicago Lawyer. SOME ASSOCIATES SURPRISED Schneider admitted that the firm didn’t tell the associates that a lower-than-normal percentage of the class would get offers. Some law students who spent their summer at King & Spalding said they wished the firm had kept them apprised of its plans. One summer associate who did not get an offer said Genz told the class that the firm “had weathered recessions before” and would survive the current one. “They definitely tried to give us assurances that it wasn’t so bad,” the summer associate added. The firm said it expected to make a substantial number of offers, said another summer associate who wasn’t offered a position, but did not provide exact numbers. “They said that we would know if something was wrong — that it was going to be very obvious if someone was not going to receive an offer,” the law student said. But another associate who did receive an offer said that at the beginning of the summer, the firm made it clear that not everyone would receive offers. “They just didn’t have the space or the need,” the associate said. That associate said there was an added emphasis on work performance and less attention paid to networking inside the firm and behavior in social settings. Said the associate, “It wasn’t word of mouth … or how well you cocktail.” The increased importance of performance created more competition, said one law student. “It was a very difficult summer,” said another, who did not receive an offer from King & Spalding. “Any little thing now is so exaggerated and can be used as an excuse not to give somebody an offer.”

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