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This annual special report focuses on what, for many law students, is the bottom line: ­whether they stand any chance in hell of landing a coveted ­associateship at a major law firm. We found that the picture was marginally brighter — but that isn’t saying much. We also examine trends in the hiring market, including a decline in large-firm participation in on-campus interviews. It’s less that they no longer believe in the cattle show — although one firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, has come up with an alternative that it likes — than that firms have fewer entry-level jobs to fill. Some elite law graduates, meanwhile, are finding a new appreciation for the charms of midsize firms.