August 30, 2009
The hay-day of high salaried firm positions, although not over, is definitely on hold. Law firms are looking to significantly restructure their finances and hire attorneys and law firms that have recently deferred associates, in many cases, gave the option to work a year at a public interest law firm while being paid by the law firm that deferred their start at a significantly reduced rate. Public Interest organizations are still reacting to this phenomenon with mixed feelings.
This recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, highlights what is going on nationally but also how it is hitting locally in Philadelphia. Organizations like the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia see the new attorneys who have been deferred and subsequently decide to work for public interest organizations as “blessings” because of the organization’s desperate need for staff and talent, they also see it as providing a few new challenges. As the article explains, “…the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and organizations like it would have to provide guidance and training to the new arrivals despite already thinly stretched staff. Public-interest lawyers face unique ethical conflicts, she said, often representing one poor person against another, who might not have a lawyer…Properly representing such a client, while not placing the opposing side at an unfair disadvantage, can require subtle approaches only lawyers with long experience representing the poor would know, she said.”