Biglaw, Job Searches, Start Dates, Summer Associates

Endless Summer? Not at Pillsbury
(And start dates possibly pushed back for first-years, too.)

Pillsbury Dough Boy 2 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Above the Law.jpg[Ed. note: Apologies for the radio silence for much of today. Alas, we’ve been experiencing some rather severe technical difficulties, in connection with the site redesign and relaunch. The next few days (and perhaps weeks) may be a little bumpy around here; please bear with us. Thanks for your patience.]
Here are two pieces of information that we’ve heard about Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman:

1. For incoming first-year associates, their start dates, originally set for early October 2008, are being pushed back. These new associates could start as late as January 2009. The delay is due to “a serious slowdown in business.”

2. For 2008 summer associates, the summer program has been reduced from 12 weeks to 10 weeks. Summer associates will not be allowed to work more than 10 weeks, even if they want to.

With respect to the first tip, concerning incoming full-time associates, we’ve heard it with respect to the Los Angeles office specifically. With respect to the second tip, concerning summer associates, we believe it to be a firmwide policy.
We contacted PWSP for confirmation and comment, earlier this week and again today. A firm spokesperson confirmed receipt of our inquiries but had no comment (as of the time of this posting; if we hear from her, we’ll update this post).
More details, plus reactions from some of our tipsters, after the jump.

With respect to first-year associate start dates, this is what we’ve heard:

You might want to look into some potentially troubling news out of Pillsbury (Los Angeles) and maybe other Pillsbury offices as well. Their new crop of associates was originally scheduled to start around October 1st of this year (these are folks who summered at Pillsbury L.A. in 2007). However, at least in L.A., the incoming associates have been told that their start date will be delayed. They haven’t been told when they’ll start; apparently that decision will be made soon. But there is speculation that the start date could be pushed out as far as January 2009. This is a huge problem for many new associates who were counting on paychecks starting in October — they’ve got rent to pay in addition to putting down security deposits on new apartments/houses.

The incoming associates have been told that the delay is due to a serious slow-down in business. Not a good sign.

If you have info about Pillsbury start dates outside of L.A., please email us.
With respect to the shortened summer program, we’ve heard specific mention of the ten-week policy applying to San Francisco, Washington, and New York. But it appears to be nationwide, based on what our sources were told. From one disgruntled incoming summer:

[Pillsbury has] reduced their summer program (that is, this summer’s program) from 12 weeks to 10. I actually had planned on doing 13 weeks with them, so there goes $10,000 of summer salary. The partner who called me said that it was “partly economic,” and partly a matter of uniformity among the offices. I’m partly pissed, and partly worried about the firm’s future health.

From a second SA:

The hiring partner called me this week and said that they’re shortening the summer program from 12 weeks to 10, saying it’s to put our office on the same schedule as other offices and firms.

Obviously, I think this is total bs and they’re running short on money — rather than firing a few of us, they’ve just cut everyone’s salary by 1/6. My hopes of getting an offer for next year are even lower than they used to be and I’m starting to focus even more on alternatives for after graduation.

From a third tipster (we received word of this from many sources):

Pillsbury just called me to inform us that they are cutting their summer program from 12 to 10 weeks. [They] said that they were doing this in part due to the merger between Shaw Pittman and Pillsbury Winthrop, as well as to cut costs. This comes as quite a shock with the summer readily approaching. I haven’t had confirmation that this has happened to anyone else yet, but he did say “nationwide switch” in his phone call.

A fourth Pillsbury SA was less grumpy than the others:

In the end, I am fine with their decision. I am sure these summer programs are a huge expense, more so during a downturn. However, I do hope things pick up soon!

I just want to say that they have been amazing with the way they have treated me as a “recruit” from the beginning – so I do hope the story doesn’t portray them in a bad light.

Times are tough all around – but they have been very classy all around. They chose to have a smaller summer class on purpose – due to the market. I had a few offers with higher ranked Vault firms, but PWSP stood head and shoulders above the rest in the way they treated me, and I actually liked the fact that our class would be smaller than the classes at some of the other firms I contemplated. I was quite impressed on how they stressed the importance of work life balance, and I heard this from every person with whom I met….

Despite this hiccup of having 2 weeks trimmed, I still think I picked a great firm and am excited to get started.

After we responded to this tipster by commending their good attitude, we received this reply:

I had a career before going back to law school — and worked very hard for almost 1/3 the same amount of money. I am very thankful for the opportunity, and I would do the same thing if I were a business owner trying to assure the long-term financial success of my business. In a downturn, people need to think of the big picture and the long term, rather than being shortsighted.

I do hope this won’t taint the attitudes of my classmates coming into the program.

So, ATL readers, what do you think? Do the Pillsbury Winthrop summers have legitimate grievances? Or do they lack the sense of perspective of Tipster #4, who is just grateful to have a well-paying job during a tough economic climate?

(hidden for your protection)

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