Report: Entry-level law firm recruiting is taking 'two steps forward and one step back'

HR software solutions can help identify prospective first-year associates that other law firms have failed to notice.

HR software solutions can help identify prospective first-year associates that other law firms have failed to notice.

The economy continues to go through bouts of growth and decline, but recent unemployment figures show that it might be time to consider a hiring spree.

Due to the last recession, some markets experienced major rifts. The legal industry was among the many that felt its wrath. About 69 percent of law firms made an offer to prospective entry-level hires in 2009—a healthier indication of the market is typically at 93 percent, according to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP).

"Rather than exhibiting the slow and steady recovery that might be hoped for, however the pattern in law firm entry-level recruiting has been something like two steps forward and one step back," NALP's report reads.

On the other hand, major American law firms feel that a smaller class size has made it more difficult for them to attract high-quality law students because "they were competing fiercely with other firms for the same group of job candidates."

Attorney offices that are looking to increase recruiting efforts but don't want to use work hours can benefit from HR software solutions. These programs can sift through a large collection of applications faster than a human being can the plain eye, identifying potential lawyers who will fit into the corporate culture. The current law firm recruitment model takes more than a year, which has its benefits and disadvantages.

Law firm recruitment begins during a student's second year of school, where a prospective hire would get offered a summer associate opportunity, the Wall Street Journal reported. NALP found that 92 percent of students who were given a summer gig received a job offer from the firm that fall.

"It's really gratifying to get that [offer], after all the work over the summer," University of Chicago Law School student Aarti Iyer told the Journal.

For the law firm, this strategy helps them see how students complete law research and other tasks, but it may come with a cost: some larger companies offer paid summer programs. This could work against the law firm if it turns out that potential candidate is not hard-working or interested in the firm's line of law.

HR software solutions can cut down some of a firm's investment, as well as identify other students who might have missed the cut on some of his or her summer associate applications. Resumes that demonstrate pro-bono hours, a strong collection of courses and references are equally as valuable to a law firm.