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Law students seeking coveted positions as summer associates at large firms had slightly fewer job openings available to them in 2013 than they did last year, according to The American Lawyer's most recent Summer Hiring Survey. Among the 116 firms who responded to the relevant questions on this year's edition of the annual poll, the average summer class size was down 3.4 percent from last year, to 34.6 associates. (All told, 118 firms responded to the survey.)

Heads of recruiting at several firms attributed the dip to what they call the unpredictability built into the summer hiring routine most large law firms rely on. That process typically requires firms to estimate their employment needs two years down the road, while vying with competitors to recruit from the same pool of top talent. Indeed, just days after saying goodbye to the 2013 summer program attendees—most of them heading into their final year of law school with a full-time job offer—law firm representatives are already visiting campuses and job fairs across the country to begin filling out next year's ranks.

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