Recruitment Numbers Recover… Kind of, Sort of, Not Really

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IN 2013, WE REPORTED THAT FALL recruitment was a “bloodbath.” While we’ve documented some signs of improvement – such as an increase in the overall number of students hired through the process—these numbers are accompanied by a necessary assembly of qualifications, disclaimers, and asterisks.

Last year we documented 351 students hired at Toronto firms and government offices. This year that number is up to 399. But that’s not the end of the story. There was also a Heenan Blaikie-sized hole in the recruitment numbers this time around (Heenan hired eleven students last year). On the other hand, we included data from a dozen offices that previously hadn’t been accounted for, including more provincial government offices, Legal Aid Ontario, and some private firms, which could account for the bump. We also reached out to a number of employers who never got back to us, suggesting the final tally might be a tad lower than it should be.

Despite this increase in total students hired, the number of U of T students who got jobs has held steady in the 90s for the last few years. Both Osgoode and U of T haven’t recovered from the dip they suffered after 2010, when the number of U of T students hired dropped from its height of over a hundred. However, both Osgoode and McGill have the biggest jump in numbers (an increase of 8 and 12, respectively), while both Queens and Western show a very incremental increase from last year. There is no decrease in numbers for any of our reported schools.

The “Seven Sisters” continued to dominate hiring: their hires accounted for 39% of all hires through the OCI process. While 2014 saw a significant increase in the number of students hired at the Sisters, the percentage of these students who come from U of T has held steady in the low 30s, meaning U of T hiring growth at the Seven Sisters does not outpace other schools.

How do we know all this, you ask?

We used largely the same process for collecting data as in previous years. We have two main sources of information: we talk to employers about how many students they hired and from what schools, and we survey everyone at U of T who was eligible to participate in the OCI process.

This year, we also did something a little different. With the help of the Law Students’ Society of Ontario, we sent the survey to other Ontario schools, namely Lakehead, Osgoode, Ottawa, Queens, Western and Windsor, who will analyze and report on the results from their student bodies. The response rate from U of T students was significantly higher than from most other schools, so we didn’t get to do as much comparative analysis as we would have liked. We’re hopeful that this collaboration between schools will continue, and in future years we’ll be able to present you with even more information about the legal job market.

There are limits to our data. Because we rely on self-reporting, we aren’t able to know exactly how many students participated in the OCI process. We also face a self-selection bias whereby some students choose not to fill out the survey.

The firm numbers include some returning 1L hires, which masks the number of students hired specifically through the fall process. Also, for some firms, the numbers will continue to increase due to this year’s 1L hiring process (which, at least at U of T, might as well be called the “JD/ MBA Recruit”).

That said, there’s a lot in this issue that we think you’ll find it interesting and valuable. We would like to note that none of it could have happened without the help of our stats guru, David Pardy, and his team of number-crunchers, Chad Cogar and Ramin Wright. And nothing brightens up these pages like some expertly-crafted illustrations, so we’re grateful to Alex Wong for putting her talents to work for UV yet again.

OCI Survey 2013 Word Cloud