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Recruiting Wisdom

Law Student Survey on COVID-19 Communication: The Results

min read

The Flo Recruit team moved quickly in response to COVID-19, empowering our legal clients to take recruiting virtual within a week of in-person event cancellations. We also moved with care, valuing research as highly as speed. Adapting to this unprecedented situation called for conversations with all stakeholders in the legal recruiting industry: law firms, law schools, and law students.

We have spoken to dozens of firms and 15+ law schools about the industry’s COVID-19 response. Each explained the challenges of transitioning to work-from-home and the growing uncertainty around postponed or virtual on-campus recruiting events, summer associate programs, and on-campus interviews. Many recruiters had not reached out to law students since the coronavirus news hit -- even students hired for summer associateships. Schools, too, reported a growing concern for how students are impacted and how to best help them. 

Law students seemed cut off, to a to-be-determined extent, from industry communication during this time of crisis. Repeated questions arose: Should firms reach out to students now, or wait until they have detailed plans? How do students feel, and what do they want to hear? How can our clients best connect with students in a newly virtual environment? 

So, we asked. 

Over the last month, Flo Recruit surveyed the 6,000+ students in our database and received nearly 600 responses. We bring you: the results!

You can watch our webinar below where we originally presented this data or continue reading for our breakdown.

Psst… You can download the full Student Survey Results PDF at the end of the blog!

Law Student Survey Insights

Our 591 law student survey respondents come from…

Law school breakdown
Law school region spread
Student year breakdown
Student hired status

1. Students feel their career prospects are affected by COVID-19, even if they are hired for the summer.

Student sentiment graph
Average sentiment by student hired status

With only 4.9% of respondents feeling “well” and “unaffected,” our starting point is established: COVID-19 has law students worried about their career prospects. The Flo Recruit team wondered if students already hired for a summer associateship or as full time associates feel secure, compared to their still-applying classmates. As our side-by-side averages show, even hired students self-rank a 3.3 out of 5. Across the board, students feel impacted.

2. Students prefer quantity over quality of communication during this time.

Graph about what students wanted to learned more about
Breakdown of topic interest by status

“Quantity over quality” doesn’t mean students want typos and poor video connection; it means students prefer any communication from firms over radio silence. Only 14.9% of students selected “not looking” for information from/about law firms. That leaves 85.1% who are looking, and 62% who are even going directly to firm websites to look for information. A whopping 78.1% of students checked the box for the “Legal industry response to COVID-19” topic. Finally, free response submissions like “silence is frustrating” and “the more communication the better” beg a quantity over quality approach. 

Where students are looking
Law student free response answers

Even if you don’t have answers, send an email with an estimated timeline for answers or a promise to share updates as soon as possible. Send information as soon as you have it in individual emails, rather than waiting to compile updates all into one.

3. Students prefer personal connection points.

How students are looking to connect

77.6% of students said they’d like to do a one-on-one coffee chat, compared to 49.1% interest in a small group coffee chat and 48.1% in a webinar. This ~30% gap shows clear preference for a personal, conversation-style connection with a firm. While one-on-one’s may feel unrealistic for some recruiting teams to execute due to attorney capacity and time constraints, we can still use this data as a “as intimate as possible” takeaway.

4. Students are comfortable with video.

Students are comfortable with video software according to this graph
Students prefer Zoom by a wide margin

91.7% of students already use Zoom, and 92% of students self-ranked between average and very comfortable with video conferencing. Recruiters can feel sure of students’ existing comfort with video software, so hesitancy around the technology should not hold firms back from inviting students to video chat. 

Suggested Action Items

We turned these data-driven insights into a few actionable suggestions that will keep you moving forward with recruiting and summer associate programs in smart, proactive ways.

1. Create a COVID-19 internal communication guide.

We hear again and again, “We don’t want to reach out, because we don’t have any details.” Or, “We don’t want to open ourselves up for questions that we can’t answer.” We hear you! But we don’t think this should stop you from communicating. 

To establish a plan, create standard responses to questions you can expect (like, “Will you still be giving the same number of offers at the end of the summer?”) so that your team is prepared and spreads consistent information -- especially on questions that don’t yet have direct answers. Establishing the specific language that everyone should use will make your team more comfortable communicating and will prevent messy misinformation among students. We suggest distributing this guide to attorneys, as well, since we see from the survey that students are reaching out to them for information. You can update the guide as plans develop to keep your team on the same page. Use confident language that aligns with your brand.

2. Increase collaboration between firms and schools.

Our team members who spoke to law schools and our team members who spoke to law firms came back to the table with a lot of overlapping notes. Both groups have had to cancel in-person events, transition materials online, keep students engaged, and disseminate frequent updates. Now is the time to work in tandem. We suggest working together to replace cancelled on-campus recruiting events, for example, with a webinar or one-on-one Zoom chats. Useful content like the student-survey-requested “Resources and Best Practices for Recruiting Digitally” could be created jointly, featuring tips from firm recruiters and distributed by schools. Doors are cracked for creativity and collaboration.

3. Embrace the opportunity to differentiate.

This is likely the most uncertain economic period your students and candidates have lived through. They are watching, wide-eyed, for your response. Your institution’s handling of COVID-19 will become part of your school or firm’s reputation. People will remember you as the transparent leader, the reliable communicator, or the bold innovator. Embrace this opportunity to differentiate.

Flo Recruit is on a mission to help each of our clients achieve this positive differentiation through proactivity and technology. Our firms are hosting Virtual Events already, showing candidates that they are in control, adaptable, and tech-forward. As our team continues to collect data, develop insights, and help the legal industry innovate, we are looking for constant feedback on our Virtual Events platform. If you are interested in joining, reach out today to learn about our free trial opportunity.

Download the full PDF results here

Hannah Kelly

Hannah developed her events expertise managing music festivals in Austin, Texas, and today she puts it to work in the legal recruiting world as Flo Recruit's Growth Manager.

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