As autumn begins, many large Texas firms already have made permanent job offers for the fall of 2013 to students who worked at the firms during the summer.

Sixteen of the state’s 25 largest firms shared information about permanent offers made to the second-year law students who worked at the firms during the summer of 2012. The firms are identified on Texas Lawyer‘s “The Texas 100″ list published in April.

Overall, the firms made permanent job offers to 347 of 386 summer students, for an offer rate of 90 percent. The same group of firms — excluding King & Spalding, which did not provide 2011 data — made permanent job offers last year to 275 of 322 students. That’s an offer rate of 85.4 percent. [See related chart, page 21.]

The combination of larger summer associate classes and higher job offer rates is a sign that the reporting firms with large Texas operations are optimistic about the coming year’s business growth.

Two of the large firms — San Antonio-based Cox Smith Matthews and Atlanta-based King & Spalding, which has offices in Austin and Houston — made permanent job offers to 100 percent of their 2012 Texas summer associates.

Cox Smith offered full-time positions for the fall of 2013 to six summer associates. In 2011 the firm made offers to four of eight summer associates — a 50 percent offer rate.

Reagan Winslow, a shareholder in San Antonio and co-chair of the firm’s recruiting committee, attributes the higher offer rate to continuing positive signs in the market and a good fit between the firm’s and students’ interests.

“There is always a match of interests and areas of expertise that has to be factored in, and this year we had a great group,” he says. The full-time offers are for positions in the firm’s corporate, commercial and general litigation, labor and employment, and energy practice groups, he says.

King & Spalding made permanent job offers to five students in Texas.

“All of the summer associates got offers, and they were on both the transactions and litigation side,” says Penn Huston, hiring partner in Houston. “We had wonderful candidates and a high demand for new lawyers.”

Huston says this is his first year as hiring partner and he does not have data for 2011, but he does say that the 2011 offer rate was not 100 percent. “The numbers were not as strong last year,” he says.

The large firms initially recruited most of the summer associates on law school campuses in the fall of 2011, with an eye toward entry-level job openings in the fall of 2013. It’s a balancing act: The firms want to consistently bring in enough students to meet anticipated associate needs, while not bringing in so many students that the firms’ offer rates are consistently low.

Students are aware of firms’ offer rates, says Doug Bland, hiring partner for Houston-based Vinson & Elkins.

“I have to believe that if they get that information, and I think they do, that it would be a factor they would consider,” he says. “They would want to get to a place where a high percentage [of summer associates] can get an opportunity to work there permanently.”

V&E had the largest summer associate class among the large firms reporting their data and a slightly lower offer rate than the previous year. The firm offered full-time jobs to 65 of 71, or 91.5 percent, of its 2012 summer associates. That’s compared with offers made to 71 of 75, or 94.7 percent, of its 2011 summer associates.

“We manage our numbers such that we can feel comfortable giving offers to all of the candidates who satisfy our criteria and who we feel have an opportunity for success here,” Bland says. “If 100 percent match the requirements, they will get offers.”

Dallas-based Jackson Walker made offers to 14 of 17, or 82.4 percent, of its summer associates. That’s a higher offer rate than last year, when it made offers to 15 of 20, or 75 percent, of its 2011 summer associates.

The lawyers who give work assignments to the summer associates are the principal evaluators of those summer associates, says Jim Ryan of Dallas, the firm’s hiring partner. Although slightly higher, Ryan says the offer rate is similar to the firm’s offer rates of recent years.

“We’re usually above 75 percent,” Ryan says. “We typically have space for everybody; it depends on their work quality.”

Offers to Summer Associates at Large Texas Firms 
Firm No. of 2L Texas Summer Associates in 2012 No. of 2L Texas Summer Associates In 2012 Given Permanent Associate Offers for 2013 Percentage of 2012 2L Texas Summer Associates With Permanent Associate Offers For 2013 Percentage of 2011 2L Texas Summer Associates With Permanent Associate Offers For 2012 Starting Salary For 2013 First-Year Associate Class Start Date For 2013 First-Year Associate Class
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld 11 10 90.9% 92.9% TBD TBD
Andrews Kurth 32 30 93.8% 84.0% $160,000 September 2013
Baker Botts 67 59 88.1% 89.8% TBD Fall 2013
Bracewell & Giuliani 27 24 88.9% 78.6% $160,000 Fall 2013
Cox Smith Matthews 6 6 100.0% 50.0% $120,000 September 2013
Haynes and Boone 41 38 92.7% 75.0% TBD TBD
Jackson Walker 17 14 82.4% 75.0% $160,000 Sept. 3, 2013
King & Spalding* 5 5 100.0% WND TBD TBD
Locke Lord 25 23 92.0% 88.2% $160,000 Sept. 9, 2013
Looper Reed & McGraw 5 4 80.0% 87.5% $120,000 September 2013
McKool Smith 9 8 88.9% 80.0% $165,000 No later than Sept. 3, 2013
Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr 7 6 85.7% 100.0% $135,000 Fall 2013
Thompson & Knight 18 14 77.8% 77.8% $160,000 TBD
Vinson & Elkins 71 65 91.5% 94.7% $160,000 TBD
Weil, Gotshal & Manges* 13 12 92.3% 100.0% TBD Fall 2013
Winstead 12 10 83.3% 71.4% $160,000 Sept. 3, 2013
* Firm is not based in Texas.TBD: to be determined.WND: will not disclose.Source: Sixteen of the largest 25 firms in Texas.
Texas Lawyer, September 2012