The OPIA Blog

Have you been deferred? Law firms scrambling to place deferred associates in volunteer posts

The recession has presented many financial gray areas for law firms across the country and, by extension, 3Ls who were expecting to start at a firm in 2009. Some students from HLS recently got word that the law firm that recently hired them is deferring their start to 2010. The question remains: How and who will manage their volunteer placements?

A recent article on American Lawyer highlighted what issues firms are dealing with and what exactly is being done to address the issue. Just last week the Association of Pro Bono Counsel held a conference call with roughly 40 public service law group leaders and law firm pro bono coordinators to figure out how to manage training and placing these new lawyers.

Questions are involved and require a lot of detailed analysis and are complicated by the amount of deferred starts. As the article explains, “Law firm are structuring their programs with differing requirements, covered costs, and degrees of involvement in the nonprofit job search. The deferrals themselves are required at some firms, including Morgan, Lewis & Bockius–the firm will bring its 2009 first-years onboard in October 2010. White & Case has announced delayed start dates into 2010 for 60 percent of its 2009 hires. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Latham & Watkins have announced an optional fall 2010 start date.”

This is about job placement and, as one school career services official put it, “A lot of students are worried…that at the end of the road, the firms still will not have a position for them,”

To read the full article, click here.