The independent student newspaper of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Hiring Falls to Historic Lows: Lowest Recruitment Numbers Since 2003

Downtown Toronto. Photo by Ian W Scott

Only 89 U of T law students were hired by firms this year, the lowest number since 2003, when only 77 students secured firm jobs. This year Osgoode and U of T tied in absolute number of hires (89), though our smaller class size means that a larger proportion of U of T students (46.1%) were hired than that of Osgoode (30.7%). Hiring was also down for other Canadian law schools. Western (-10), Queens (-4), McGill (-9) and Dalhousie (-4) all saw fewer hires than in 2011. A few schools saw hiring go up, but in small numbers. Ottawa (+3), Windsor (+1) and Osgoode (+6) all saw hiring rise.

Overall hiring has fallen significantly compared to last year. There were 379 hires this year, compared to 403 in 2011. Hiring remains far below pre-recession levels – in 2007, 446 students were hired by the firms in the UV survey.

The lower rate of hiring is especially troubling considering that tuition rates continue to climb, law school class sizes continue to grow, and New York hiring has mostly dried up. Students considering applying to U of T law may wonder whether our tuition rates are justified in the current hiring environment.

The Data and its Limitations

Our survey relies on information provided to us from two sources.

First, law firms provide us with hiring numbers by school. These numbers include returning 1L hires from February 2012 but not New York hires. The list does not include government agencies, as most of these agencies have not responded to our requests for data.

Second, we conducted our annual survey at UT Law. The survey was sent to all students set to graduate in 2014, whether they participated in the Fall Recruitment process or not. The response rate was very high, at approximately 75%. We hired a consultant to analyze the raw survey data, prepare tables and graphs, and perform a regression analysis.

A common critique of our data is that we do not have figures on how many students at each school actually participate in Fall Recruitment. Comparing the proportion of the school hired is problematic, because it is highly likely that some schools participate more extensively than others.

To address this, we contacted Career Development Offices for each school listed in our survey asking for this data. Almost every school was unwilling to share this information. If this is something that our readers would like us to include in subsequent years, we suggest you contact the relevant cdos.

Finally, another issue involves transfer students. Our estimates of class sizes are based on first year numbers. They do not account for gains/losses due to transfer students, which could change the proportions of students hired.

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