Law grads may see spikes in hiring, as well as in salaries

This appears to be a good time to be a recent law school graduate, particularly if your goal is to land a job at a law firm, a recent survey shows.  

Entry-level law associates can expect more job opportunities in the months ahead, new research from Robert Half Legal shows. Nearly 7 in 10 lawyers surveyed (68 percent) said their law firm plans to increase its hiring of first-year associates in the next year, more than triple the number of lawyers who cited similar hiring plans in a 2017 Robert Half Legal survey. More than one-quarter (27 percent percent indicated no change in hiring activity, and just 1 percent plan a decrease.

Beyond expanding job offers to recent law school graduates, law firms are re-assessing starting salaries for those candidates. More than 6 in 10 survey respondents (63 percent) believe their firm should raise first-year associate starting pay to match base salary increases at large law firms.

Lawyers were asked, "Does your law firm plan to increase or decrease its hiring of first-year associates in the next 12 months?" Their responses:*

Increase significantly


Increase somewhat


Neither increase nor decrease


Decrease somewhat


Decrease significantly


Don't know/no answer




*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding.     

Lawyers were also asked, "In your opinion, does your law firm need to increase starting salaries for first-year associates to match recent base salary increases for entry-level lawyers at Big Law firms?" Their responses:                   





Don't know




"While law firms don't expect newly minted associates to possess in-depth industry knowledge, they do seek lawyers with advanced tech skills, business acumen and collaboration abilities," said Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "Highlighting in-demand attributes on their resumes, along with scholastic accomplishments and legal experience gleaned through internships, pro bono activities and project work, helps candidates stand out to potential employers."

Sullivan added that it's important for applicants to take a strategic approach when researching legal positions. "Aside from responding to online postings, law school graduates can enhance their job search efforts by attending legal conferences, workshops and events to network and learn of new leads."

Survey Methodology  
The online survey was developed by Robert Half Legal and conducted by a leading independent research firm. It is based on responses from more than 175 lawyers in the United States and Canada who work full time at law firms with 20 or more employees.