Today law 360 pulse released the second part of  their  Summer Associate Survey. The survey ‘s reported goal is to explore the  ongoing impact of the pandemic  as the second class of pandemic summer associates waves goodbye.
The survey was conducted from June 29 to August 9, 2021 and responses were received from 751 individuals. Although the survey was anonymous responders were required to identify their law firm. The report does not indicate how many firms were represented, but  30 firms we’re identified as “at the Vanguard” in  four critical areas of: confidence building,  networking and mentorship, adaptability of

the program format and commitment to developing skills. To make the list firms had to meet a minimum threshold of five participants. Five firms topping the list are 1) Morrison & Foerster; 2) Cleary; 3) Goulston & Storrs; 4) Paul Hastings and 5) Morgan Lewis.
Some of the conclusions are not a surprise.
  • Finding  career happiness is more important than making partner to the highest proportion of responders (27%).
  • Although there is stiff competition for talent only 8% of the responders report receiving a sign on bonus.
  • The pandemic had had a negative impact on Associates sense of mentoring and hands-on experience.
  • 73% report being involved in pro bono work.
  • 27% of respondents said that their  “associateship” was conducted entirely in person.
Some issues of concern:
  • 23% of the associates were uncertain of the criteria on which their performance would be judged. This was up from 16% in 2020.
  • The number of associates working directly with a partner declined from 31%  to 11 %
Diversity. It is no surprise that an open ended comments diversity received a lot of attention. Morgan Lewis was highlighted as providing female mentors at all level of their career across multiple offices.
Real Life Experience The most common “courtroom” experiences associates accompanied firm attorneys were hearings and depositions.
Are we having fun yet? Maybe in the old days there was too much emphasis on fun. But it seems pretty clear that the pandemic took a toll. 23% report that their program was no fun at all!  Comments from some associates also complained of “too much alcohol.”  One observed that some associates don’t drink for religious reasons  but obviously would also impact associates who don’t drink for medical or other real life issues such as addiction which lawyers are not immune to.
The Tech  Divide Private firm and academic law librarians have had a decades long discussion about the importance of exposing associates to practice technologies beyond legal research. No surprise that time Time entry and document management we’re at the top of the list at 84 %and 82% respectively.  However, I was surprised that the survey didn’t inquire about two of the most important legal tech developments. Neither analytics nor drafting tools which drive both insights and efficiency were listed in the survey question about specialized law firm software.

The survey is only available to Law360 Pulse subscribers. Pulse is  sold as an upgrade to Law360 enterprise subscribers.