Public Service Stipends for First Year Associates


Reprinted from Of Counsel October 2009, Volume 28, Number 10, pages 5-7, with permission from Aspen Publishers, Inc., Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, New York, NY.

Among the interesting developments during this current crisis in BigLaw economics, some law firms have rethought their approach to the 2009 first-year associate classes. Instead of rescinding offers, leaving even the best qualified graduates of fine law schools unemployed and exposed to the full brunt of a major employment downturn,

they’re requiring the new attorneys to defer their start dates from September or October 2009 to January or even March 2010.

Some firms are pursuing an even more aggressive

option. They are offering/requiring a one-year hiatus during which the graduating student may pursue a public service stint, with a $60,000 stipend and a typical support package that allows the graduates to study for the bar exam. That add-on is usually worth in the range of $12,000 to $14,000.

The strategy is being expanded and refined as firms

more closely study the purported benefits.

Why would a major law firm pursue either

program amidst a major economic downturn pressuring

profits lower, and why would a graduating law student from the top of his or her class at a prestigious law school consider accepting it?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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