Cozen, Foley Hoag top American Lawyer summer associate rankings

Cozen O’Connor and Foley Hoag have the best summer associate programs in the nation, and Clifford Chance has the worst, according to The American Lawyer’s annual ratings.

This year 3,963 summer associates at 134 law firms nationwide offered insight into their firm’s summer associate programs. Students participated in the survey from early June through early August, with the vast majority reporting positive experiences. To be included in the final rankings, at least 10 completed surveys were needed from each firm.

With the majority of students offering positive feedback, two companies tied for first place —Cozen O’Connor, a New York based firm and Foley Hoag, of Boston. Both firms received a perfect overall score of 5.000 after receiving 100 percent participation in the survey from their summer associates. Clifford Chance, at the bottom of the 134 firms, had a satisfaction score of 4.222.

The surveys asked students a variety of questions to learn “how interesting the work was, how much ‘real’ work was assigned, how the training and guidance measured up, how positive interactions with partners and associates were, how well the firm communicated its goals and expectations, how accurately the firm portrayed itself in interviews, and the respondents’ inclination to accept a position if one were offered,” The American Lawyer reported.

Students who participated in the survey were also able to provide feedback through open-ended questions, and many shared that they were more worried about the availability of jobs compared to last year’s survey results.

“We’re in a tough legal market,” one Venable summer associate said in an interview with The American Lawyer. “The sense I got from my class is that each person felt fortunate to be there, knowing other people had so many problems getting jobs, and that there’s so much of a crunch at associate level hiring.”

Many students also reported a desire for firms to be more upfront about the work commitment new associates face when hired.

“We know we will work long hours as an associate — being a bit more open about that so we can realistically see our future would be helpful,” said a summer associate from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Summer associates reported that a firm’s reputation was the most important factor in selecting which firm to work for. Other factors, including the desire to live in a particular city, the strength of a firm in a particular practice area of interest and the probability of receiving a permanent job offer were also considered.

Students who were offered full-time positions indicated that job security was the most important factor to consider.