What happens to a summer associate class at a large law firm after a decade?

Back in the summer of 2006, I was a summer associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago. We had 70 summer associates that year, and we received a facebook of everyone across the firm. Most returned in 2007, but I returned after my clerkship in 2008 to work at the firm until 2010—I worked with phenomenally talented attorneys and learned an incredible amount, particularly through participating in a long jury trial. I was given extraordinary responsibility fairly quickly. (I made my share of mistakes attributable to my youth and inexperience, too.) I came out of the experience all the better.

In 2011, I looked through the facebook at who was at the firm and who’d left—of course, some never came back after that summer (I know a few who took jobs elsewhere even after receiving an offer), and the financial crisis exerted significant pressure on many of my colleagues. But by March 2011, there were just 26 associates from that summer class who were working at the firm. By November 2015, that number had dwindled to 8. Four still remain 13 years after that summer (or 12 years after most of them graduated and began)—and two just became share partners (congrats!).

Once or twice a year from 2011 onward, I’d check to see the updates. Those check-ins are charted below. The dotted line from 2006 to 2011 reflects the fact that not all summer associates returned to the firm. But it provides some perspective for those who are participating in OCI this year to think about what life in a decade (or 12 or 13 years…) might look like. It's probably typical of many law firms: there’s simply a lot of movement these days.