After two to three years of a slumping economy, during which law firms cut back on hiring first-year associates and lowered starting salaries, the legal community appears to be slowly recovering. But the industry still hasn’t returned to pre-recession hiring levels.

Ballard Spahr hired four attorneys laterally this year but will not be bringing on first-year associates in Maryland, said Jon M. Laria, Managing Partner of the firm’s Baltimore office. Ballard Spahr did not have a summer associate program in 2011 or 2010, when “everyone was evaluating their hiring needs,” Mr. Laria said.