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More on Why Associates Leave Law Firms

Here at Legal Blog Watch, we've posted on the problem of associate attrition here and here. This week, Wired GC offers another explanation for attrition problem: summer programs, or  the ol' bait and switch. Commenting on this American Lawyer article (11/27/06) about summer law firm programs, Wired GC notes that:

At other firms, things sometimes got too authentic. “Keep summers away from the horrendous partners that are hard to work with and make people cry,” whimpered one summer at fifth-ranked Cozen O’Connor. A clerk at 156th-ranked Cadwalader grumbled about the “torture of working for an associate who is notoriously awful to work with.” Apparently, there’s reality, and there’s reality, summer-style.

Cry?  In my world, this is 100% wrong. Any firm that wants summers to make an intelligent decision should have them work with a curmudgeon or two, not just the stunt Perfect Partner called up from central casting.

Wired GC also suggests that many summer associates gain a sense of entitlement. They want the $150,000-a-year starting salaries, but they also want a work-life balance, with options for part time and telecommuting.   

This recent column by a Harvard 3L, Choose Your Law Firm Carefully (from Harvard Law Record, 11/16/06), offers a student's reasons for declining to return to a firm. Among the student's complaints, the firm had a small summer class (thus cutting down on opportunities to socialize), the firm didn't allow mobility between offices (e.g., an employment offer at the firm's office in one city was not transferable to another branch) and the firm was too cheap to offer a 12-week summer program (instead, limiting it to 10 weeks) or pay for relocation expenses and living expenses during the bar.

Do today's incoming associates expect too much, as GC suggests? Or are they, like the Harvard 3L, simply taking advantage of a sellers' market and negotiating the best deal possible? 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 27, 2006 at 06:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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