Biglaw, Deferral Stipend, Start Dates

Firms That Are Still Deferring People Into 2012

Some people in the class of 2010 will see this before they see a job.

Don’t look now, but in a few weeks, on-campus interviewing will get started on law school campuses across the country. That’s right — in about a month, law firms will start interviewing people they think they’ll have work for in the fall of 2013. I don’t know where the north pole will be in fall 2013, but law firms are supposed to know how many junior associates they’ll need more than two years from now?

Was this system designed by Nostradamus?

Under this employment system, there are winners and there are losers. Most of the people in the class of 2011 who have contacted us about their start dates have reported that they’ll be starting their Biglaw careers on time in the fall of 2011. That is good news. But even though we’ve moved far from the worst of the recession, there are still firms that are deferring their incoming classes.

In fact, at one firm, some members of the class of 2011 will be starting before members of the class of 2010…

At Proskauer, all of the class of 2011 associates are starting this November. For the class of 2010, not so much. A tipster explains:

On Tuesday, Proskauer called its 2010 NY summers (who were already on a one year deferral) and told them that they would be deferred until either January 2012 or April 2012. While the firm started a few people, mainly corporate, last summer, this deferral affects [much] of their incoming 2010 class.

Also, the firm said that they are not deferring their 2011 class and told them that they will start this November. They also said that they will NOT be giving the 2010 class, who is starting later, seniority over the 2011 class. This means that the 2010 people who graduated earlier have essentially lost a year, if they ever get to start.

Other tipsters report that whether or not you’ve been pushed back to April depends on your practice group. Our sources tell us that the labor group was particularly affected by this decision.

We talked with a spokesperson for Proskauer, who provided this information:

All of Proskauer’s Class of 2011 associates will start this November. Nearly half of our Class of 2010 associates have already started. Most of the remaining Class of 2010 associates will begin in November, with some following a short time later in January and early April.

At the time we made offers to the Class of 2010, we advised them that their start dates would be deferred until November 2011 or later. Fortunately, our business increased substantially and we called a large number of the 2010 associates in early.

The 2010 associates who start later than November will continue to receive the monthly stipend and most will continue to work at the secondments we previously arranged for them.

This is a considerably brighter picture than what some of our tipsters have painted. But it’s still worth noting that at least some class of 2010 members will be starting after the class of 2011. In the “which class was most screwed” race to the bottom, did the class of 2010 just pull ahead of the classes of 2009, 2011, and 2008?

But it’s not just some of the class of 2010 at Proskauer that’s getting pushed back into 2012. Foley & Lardner is one of the few firms that is pushing back the class of 2011 into 2012. One source reports that the earliest the class of 2011 will start is February 2012, and the class will not be receiving any kind of stipend.

Foley did not respond to our request for comment.

Some of these deferrals remind me of the book Intern Nation (affiliate link), which discusses how unpaid internships are becoming more and more important in the hunt for full-time, gainful employment. Some places make landing a high-paying job in Biglaw contingent on being able to go for large chunks of time without getting a salary (or the salary that you thought you’d make). If you need to start earning money as soon as you graduate, Biglaw might not be the place for you.

What advice should we give to the incoming class of 2012 (or the soon-to-be-interviewed class of 2013)? Most firms are starting their people on time this year. Is that something these classes should count on?

How many other firms are still deferring class of 2010 and class of 2011 members into 2012? We welcome your tips, ideally with memos or other supporting documentation, by email. Thanks.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of start dates

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