Over the past several years, many law firms have cut back or eliminated hiring first- and second-year law students for the summer, but some New Jersey firms continue to add new talent to their rosters.
"The past five years, we've stayed pretty much on par with our hiring of summer associates," said Alison Feldman Walsh, director of recruiting and professional development at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP, in Morristown, which hired six associates this year. "Not much has changed with the economic downturn in terms of our hiring of summer interns."
Walsh said she has seen a change in the perspective of students who grew up in New Jersey and have a desire to work in the state, as they've shifted from pursuing positions at the high-paying, prestigious law firm in New York to start their careers here.
"They are really looking to stay in New Jersey, which is nice," Walsh said. "It's also harder to lateral into New Jersey, because firms are not hiring as many laterals."
Over the past few years, an already competitive process has become even more so for law students, who now recognize they need to be broaden their searches to include more firms in their pursuit of fewer summer positions, said Stephanie Richman, assistant dean for career services at Rutgers Law, in Newark.
“Firms have adjusted criteria according to the number of students that interested in the opportunities and have recognized that they are able to get very strong students,” Richman said.
Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla P.C., of Red Bank, which has two summer associates this year, hasn't changed its summer associate program over the past few years, said Michael J. Gross, a shareholder at the firm.
The goal of the firm is to find candidates who'll become permanent associates and grow into shareholders, Gross said.
"I think we're probably not unusual in terms of law firms, what they're doing," Gross said.
The firm stopped recruiting at schools a few years ago, and instead regularly selects law students from those who express interest in the firm.