Now that Clients Won’t Pay for Training Young Associates, How are We Going to Teach Young Lawyers the Skills of Lawyering?

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We still need to train our young lawyers the practical skills of day to day to day lawyering. We used to run a great gig under which we took raw law school graduates whose only particular skill was to “think like a lawyer” (whatever that means) and teach them the skills of practical lawyering largely by trial and error and then charging clients an hourly fee for these efforts. The clients have caught on and have said no mas.

The cost of recruiting and then training young lawyers is enormous. If we add the hard costs of recruiting summer and first year associates, the soft costs of recruiting, the compensation paid to summer associates and first and second year associates with the expectation of producing a productive and profitable third year associate, the cost per lawyer may well approach a staggering $1,000,000 per lawyer at some law firms. This whopping expense was made less painful when we were able to charge clients an hourly fee for teaching our own lawyers basic skills. But, those days are gone. Clients are not willing to pay for first and second year associates.

Well then, how are we going to train new lawyers? How about if we followed the rest of the world and imposed some form of clerkships?

But, let’s be classy and call these “fellowships.”

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Jerome Kowalski
Kowalski & Associates

Jerry Kowalski is the founder of Kowalski & Associates, which provides law firm management... View Profile »


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