Biglaw, Kids, Money, Shameless Plugs, Skaddenfreude, Summer Associates, Washington Post

Summer Associates: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Best of Times

WilmerHale Wilmer Hale summer associate pay Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday’s Washington Post has a great article, by Ian Shapira, about the adventures of summer associates here in the nation’s capital. This is our favorite part (emphasis added):

[B]udding lawyers say they spend much of their office time looking for better deals. They peruse such Web sites as Above the Law, a must-read legal blog written by David Lat, a former federal prosecutor in Newark and former co-editor of the Wonkette politics and media blog.

One of Above the Law’s scoops this month was headlined “WilmerHale Summers: Where’s Our Raise?” The blog published an e-mail from an anonymous summer associate in the Boston office who complained that the summers weren’t getting the customary pro-rated weekly equivalent of first-year associates. Instead of about $3,100 a week ($160,000 a year), the tipster wrote, they were getting only $2,800 (about $145,000 a year).

More discussion of this delightful piece, after the jump.

We’re not calling it “delightful” just ’cause of the ATL shout-out. The article is very well-reported, as well as an interesting and engaging read. There are a number of juicy quotes from current summers:

There has been no better time to inhabit the stratosphere of law firm summer associates than now. With a domino effect, some of Washington’s elite firms have been boosting salaries over the past several months as they compete for a talent pool that is not expanding as rapidly as the caseloads. Prominent firms have hit a controversial high: about $3,100 a week for summer associates, or what would be just over $160,000 a year for fresh law school graduates. Perks are plentiful and full-time job offers all but guaranteed.

“I feel like I deserve it,” said Vincenza Battaglia, 25, a rising third-year law student summering at Steptoe & Johnson. “We work really hard in law school.”

We love summer associates with a sense of entitlement. After all, they have every reason to feel they’re in the driver’s seat:

Summer associates — knighted as “summers” and never called “interns” within their subculture — have total market control. Demand is bigger than supply: Even though the number of graduates from the top 25 law schools has remained steady for years, the number of law firm openings has climbed, according to legal specialists.

“As the economy gets bigger and bigger, there’s more of a demand for legal services,” said Bruce McLean, chairman and partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, quickly adding that the cost of increasing salaries does not get passed directly on to clients. “We’ve had rate increases for clients in years where there’s been no salary increases,” he said.

Translation: Sometimes, dear clients, we raise our fees even though our costs haven’t changed much. We just want to make more money off you. It’s all about the benjamins, baby.
Behold the power of the blogosphere. After describing the mini-controversy up at WilmerHale in Boston, Shapira writes:

[WilmerHale’s] Washington office perhaps avoided a blog-lashing by bumping up its associates’ salaries in midsummer after learning that other firms were paying more. And the firm made the raises retroactive.

“No one is going to choose to come here simply for the sake of the last dollar,” said Craig Goldblatt, a partner at the Washington office of WilmerHale. Still, he added, the firm raised summer associates’ salaries because “we are committed to be at or near the top of the market once we understand that’s what the market is paying.”

“Once we understand that’s what the market is paying.” C’mon, Craig — get with the program. Just bookmark ATL, or add it to your RSS feed. It’s that easy!
You can read the rest of Ian Shapira’s piece by clicking here. Good stuff!
No Objections Here: Supply-and-Demand Has Top Law Firms’ ‘Summer Associates’ Hitting Pay Dirt [Washington Post]
Earlier: WilmerHale Summers: “Where’s Our Raise?”

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