Summer associate hiring in New Jersey, which already plateaued once post-recession at levels far below that of the boom years, has flatlined again at an even lower level.
The 69 summer associates hired to 17 bellwether firms and branches was essentially flat, though with three more hires than last year's 66 total, the number does represent a 4.5 percent increase.
With that increase came an uptick in the average hires per firm, to 4.06 from 3.88. The average number of hires was 5.19 in 2013 and 6.53 in 2012.
The number of firms with three or more hires, however, shrank to 65 percent—and has receded each year for at least the past four, from 71 percent in 2014, 81 percent in 2013 and 93 percent in 2012.
"I think there are less summer associate positions, and I think everyone knows that," said James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). "Certainly there are fewer of these than there were five years ago."
The trend in New Jersey has been mostly a downward one. A decade ago, the 20 most active firms and branches in the state made a total of 148 summer hires, and eclipsed the 140-associate mark every year for the next five years. Average hires per firm met or eclipsed seven each year.
After 2010, firms began scaling back or jettisoning their programs.