NALP: Offer and acceptance rates high, despite virtual, shorter summer programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New findings from the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP) show that despite the shift at law firms to virtual and shortened summer programs in 2020, offer and acceptance rates remained near or at historical highs, but summer program class sizes continued to shrink.

NALP today released its Report on the Survey of Legal Employers on Summer 2020 Outcomes and First-Year Associate Plans, available at Due to changes in the timing of OCI related to the COVID-19 pandemic, NALP's typical fall recruiting surveys that result in the annual Perspectives on Law Student Recruiting report have been split into two collection timeframes this year.

The Report on the Survey of Legal Employers on 2020 Outcomes and First-Year Associate Plans includes analyses on summer programs and first-year associate plans from a survey administered in fall 2020, and a separate survey focused on recruiting outcomes and lateral hiring will take place in spring 2021. Below are some key takeaways from the 2020 report.

Summer 2020 Programs: Format and Outcomes

Over 86% of summer 2020 programs were entirely virtual, 8% were a hybrid model of some in-person and some virtual programming, and 6% were entirely in-person programs.

The average summer program length in 2020 was 5.6 weeks, compared to 9.7 weeks for these same offices in 2019.

The aggregate offer rate coming out of summer 2020 programs (inclusive of both summer programs that were held and those that were canceled) was nearly 97%, just below last year’s historic high of nearly 98%. Offer rates for summer programs that were held (97.0%) were somewhat higher compared to those that were canceled (93.3%).

The overall acceptance rate on these offers reached an historic high of 87.8%, up slightly from 87.5% in 2018 and 2019, and remained significantly higher than the pre-Great Recession norms of 73% to 77%. Acceptance rates for summer programs that were held (88.0%) were slightly higher compared to those that were canceled (85.6%).

The average summer program class size declined to 11. It was 13 in 2019 and had previously been flat at 14 from 2016-2018. This downward trend was driven in large part to declines in the summer program class sizes in the largest firms of more than 700 lawyers, which have fallen from an average of 22 in 2016 to 14 in 2020.

Class of 2020 First-Year Associate Plans

Nearly 48% of offices reported January 2021 as the start month for their Class of 2020 first-year associates. ­October 2020 (18% of offices) and November 2020 (15% of offices) were the second and third most popular start months.

For offices that adjusted their first-year associate start months, 55% offered stipends or other cash payments and 50% offered salary advances to their impacted associates.

Read the Report at