More firms are pushing back the start dates of incoming first year associates. This weekend, we learned that Winston & Strawn has pushed back start dates to January 19th, 2010. Deferred associates will receive an additional $15,000 on top of their $10,000 bar stipend. The firm is also picking up health care for its incoming associates, starting in September.
We learned today that Baker & McKenzie has also pushed back start dates to January 2010. As we understand it, the firm is not offering any additional stipend other than what they normally pay out for bar expenses.
WilmerHale also announced a start date push back. According to a firm-wide memo:
As is our normal practice, we will have more than one start date. A portion of the class will start on January 20 and the remainder will start on March 17. To determine the group that will start on each date, Legal Personnel and Recruiting will work with department and practice group leaders to balance the stated interests of the incoming associates with the various needs of departments, practice groups and offices.
Those starting in January 2010 will receive a $10,000 deferral stipend on top of a $5,000 bar stipend, while the March 2010 first years will receive a $15,000 bar stipend.
But WilmerHale is also encouraging associates to take a full year off:
We also informed our incoming associates that they may defer their start dates until the fall of 2010 for a stipend in the amount of $75,000. This deferral is entirely at the option of the individual incoming associate and is not tied to his or her ability to obtain a pro bono or other public service position.
The WilmerHale deferral stipend is right at the top of the Latham-led market for these optional year-long programs. But its stipend for people being forced to start in January or March is a little on the low end.
Baker, Winston, and WilmerHale are announcing their programs late in the game. We’ll have to see if the delay puts incoming associates heading to the these firms at a disadvantage in terms of post-bar exam options.
After the jump, we check in on Sonnenschein’s late breaking, long-term deferral.
Above the Law has been able to confirm that Sonnenschein pushed back the start date for nine of its 29 incoming first years until January 2011. But the firm is not offering these associates a deferral stipend commensurate with what other firms have offered for a year-long deferral. According to a firm wide memo, it is not even clear that these nine incoming first years will have jobs with Sonnenschein in 2011:
Based on our most recent needs assessment, we are unable to assign start dates to 9 of the 29 associates originally scheduled to join in the fall. At present, we anticipate being able to have these candidates join the firm by January 2011. While we recognize the impact of this decision, in the current economic environment, it is essential that we match our current workforce with our anticipated work load so that there are opportunities for all of our associates to be fully productive. We will pay those associates a $10,000 stipend and reimburse them for their bar review and bar examination expenses. In addition, the firm will work with each of these affected individuals to assist them in searching for an interim or alternative position.
Update (3:35): Firm sources clarified that the $10,000 is in addition to normal bar expenses.
Not only will these incoming Sonnenschein people have to start looking later than classmates heading to firms that announced earlier, these people will have to try to find a paying position while they are competing against other recent graduates who can work for free thanks to their firms’ deferral stipend. The nine associates who thought they were heading to Sonnenschein this fall probably feel like they took a “wrong turn at Albuquerque” and ended up at Thacher Proffitt.
The news is marginally better for the other 20 incoming Sonnenschein first years:
Sonnenschein has 29 candidates for first-year associate positions. Each practice group recently has made an assessment of the needs of their groups as a whole, and in light of the staffing in each particular office. While some of the 29 candidates will join the firm as initially anticipated in the fall of 2009, the start date of others will be affected. To the extent that there is any disruption, the firm will work with those individuals to explore placements with clients, public interest fellowships, and community service opportunities, or other opportunities, depending on the candidate’s interest.
For 20 of the 29, start dates have been assigned individually based on practice group and office needs. For some, we have been able to assign start dates ranging from September 2009 through Fall 2010, with most starting by January 2010. For these first-years with assigned start dates, in addition to reimbursing bar review fees, bar examination fees, and moving expenses (if applicable), the firm also will provide health care insurance as of June 1, 2009. The firm will also pay these individuals a $5,000 stipend. In addition, for any individual whose start date commences after October 2009 and before February 2010, the firm will offer an interest-free loan of up to $10,000, depending on need, to be deducted from future pay.
Sonnenschein is also shortening its summer program to eight weeks.
Memo to law firms: associates really need to know when they are starting, the sooner the better.
Check out our updated Start Date chart here.
Earlier: Is Latham Setting Precedent?