Law firms predict big drop in graduate vacancies

Graduate vacancies in law firms are expected to decrease by 16.5 per cent this year, despite a predicted decrease of just 0.6 per cent in available jobs across all sectors, according to the latest Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) bi-annual survey.

AGR’s previous survey in Winter 2012 predicted that the number of law firm vacancies would rise by 5.4 per cent between the 2010/11 and 2011/12 recruitment seasons (26 January 2012).

The predicted falls in graduate jobs for this year will however be led by investment banks/fund managers that expect the number of graduate positions to contract by a massive 66.6 per cent and construction companies or consultancies by 56.6 per cent.

Those falls have been offset against a 147.6 per cent increase in graduate vacancies in energy, water or utility companies and 72.5 per cent in IT/telecommunications companies.

Law firm respondents also disclosed an average of 44.5 applications received per vacancy, compared to an average of 73.2 applications received across all sectors.

Elsewhere in the survey, the median salary for law firms remains unchanged at £37,000, behind investment bankers or fund managers at £38,250.

However, in other sectors graduate starting salaries are predicted to rise by an average of 6 per cent.

The highest level of respondents to the survey were from law firms, with 38 firms taking part.

For the first time the survey asked respondents whether they were monitoring the socio-economic background of graduates recruited in the 2011/12 season – only 12.5 per cent of respondents indicated they were doing so.

When asked whether they have any initiatives within their organisations to increase the socio-economic diversity of graduates 24.4 per cent said they currently do so while 21 per cent have plans to do so in the future.

A 2:1 degree classification remains the most common selection criteria used by graduate recruiters, with 76 per cent using it as minimum entry standard for the graduates they recruit. This has increased from 73 per cent last year.