Start Dates, Summer Associates

Cravath ‘Un-Defers’ Some in Class of 2010 via Lottery System

Cravath Swaine Moore LLP logo small.JPGBack in June, Cravath took the aggressive step to preemptively defer associates that received an offer from the firm to be part of its 2010 incoming class. At the time, we reported:

Today’s announcement from Cravath also delays the start dates of this year’s summers until fall 2011. It’s a mandatory deferment, and they will get $65,000 plus health care (plus $1,000 in loan assistance).

But last night, Cravath indicated that maybe they pulled the deferral trigger on the incoming class of 2010 a little too early. Multiple tipsters report that Cravath has emailed its 3Ls and informed them that some members of the class may be able to start in the fall of 2010.
Not the entire class. A limited number of fall 2010 spots will be made available based on department need. The opportunity to start in 2010 will be determined by a lottery.
I bet that when people received a summer associate offer from Cravath, they weren’t expecting to have their careers reduced to a Powerball drawing. Personally, I would have gone with a Survivor-style reality show where we lock potential Cravath starters in a dorm and watch them cannibalize each other. But I suppose a lottery has enough of a “we’re making this up as we go” feel to it.
Details on who will be eligible for the lottery after the jump.

Not everybody will be eligible for the “who wants to start their career” lottery. Essentially, if you took the initiative and have proactively found a job to tide you over for a year, then you are not eligible to start at Cravath. A tipster explains it this way:

Cravath will not allow deferred associates who have accepted any other job to take advantage of this “opportunity” — they expect “commitments to be honored.” In what we believe is a smart move on their part, the firm said that SA’s who have accepted judicial clerkships will be completely ineligible to start in the fall. Pissing off Federal Judges is a big no-no.

I mean, this makes sense. But it does create the somewhat perverse situation where only the incoming associates that have been sitting around since the summer are eligible to start. If you were a hot commodity, Cravath will see you in a year. But, if you are an undesirable, “by all means, please join us at Cravath in 2010!”
How did Cravath find themselves in this position where they are determining their incoming class via lottery? From the email Cravath sent out:

[S]ince June [2009], our level of work has continued to increase substantially beyond anticipated levels, and we believe that this trend is likely to continue.

Funny. Just yesterday, Jones Day had some interesting things to say about firms that fail to accurately anticipate their hiring needs and make short-term decisions.
Of course, none of the incoming Cravath associates that have the opportunity to start expressed concern about Cravath’s hiring process. The opportunity to start their careers on time is an opportunity they’ve been waiting for.
Earlier: Hell of a (Jones) Day, Today
Cravath Offers Voluntary Deferral to Class of 2009 — and Delays Class of 2010 a Full Year

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