The National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC) introduced us to this topic in their piece, Timing is Everything: The Law Firm Recruiting Calendar (at page two). It’s important for candidates to know that large law firms do follow a specific calendar when it comes to recruiting. The calendar is a month-by-month focus on certain recruiting objectives and practices. The focus changes depending on the time of the year; and, the calendar includes time spent on hiring: associates, partner level laterals, new attorneys, and law school students.
Candidates should consider this calendar in order to help better time their applications and to make networking attempts more effective. The following is a quick breakdown of a typical large law firm recruiting calendar:
At the beginning of the year, firm management makes forecasts as to recruiting budgets and hiring needs. Various practice groups within the firm also assess hiring needs – for both partners and experienced associates. In the middle of the month, large firms begin to contact legal search firms and communicate their lateral hiring needs.
February and March
The interviewing of lateral attorneys is perhaps the most intense during this time period than at any other time of the year. In addition, February marks the time when firms decide which schools they will recruit their summer and first year associates from. The firms also book on-campus recruiting dates, at the target schools, during this time.
Lateral hiring decisions and interviews continue throughout this month. However, please note that law firm recruitment personnel across the U.S. meet for the annual National Association for Law Placement (NALP) conference in April. This means there may be a delay in resume reviews, interviewing, and responding to a candidate’s communications.
May, June, and July
These months focus on a firm’s summer associate program. Time is spent orientating summer associates to the firm, assigning them supervisors and mentors, and tasking them with work.
Firms wind up their attention on summer programs. They conduct exit interviews and evaluations with summer associates; and, they make decisions on which associates they will make offers to. Some focus is on lateral hiring at this time, but it’s mostly in the background.
The first-year class of associates usually begins after Labor Day at most big firms. Time is spent on orientation and training. This continues through October. Firms also conduct Fall season on-campus interviews during this time. Lateral hiring slows down for most firms towards the end of the third quarter and recruiting attention centers on law students.
October and November
Recruiting and hiring continues to go dormant. Similarly, Summer associate and entry level hiring wraps up during these months. In addition, firms typically don’t consider it economical to bring in new lateral partners later in the year.
Despite the holidays, lateral recruiting begins to rev back up. December 1st also marks the time when first year law students must be released for recruiting purposes.
Recruiting is definitely a full-time, year-long operation when it comes to large firms. We again invite you to visit the NALSC article for even more details regarding the firms’ recruiting calendar. Please know that QUID PRO QUO is always here to answer any questions you may have regarding the recruiting process, life in a big firm, or how to land your next big employment opportunity. Simply contact us today. We also encourage you to view our Career Portal to learn of attorney positions that we’re currently looking to fill.