When is volunteering not voluntary? When you are a young lawyer.
We’re all still trying to digest New York’s new requirement that forces young lawyers to give away their skills for free for 50 hours if they want to become members of the bar.
It’s never cool when an organization forces the youngest and the weakest to “volunteer,” while those who are more established and profitable are not required to give to charity.
But I guess if the New York State Bar can do it, surely a private law firm can feel free to impose volunteer requirements on its young attorneys. Apparently, if you work at Weil Gotshal and have some free time, the firm wants you to “volunteer,” or at least provide a really good reason why you don’t want to work for free over the weekend….
A tipster tells us that Weil has been trying to bully first years into volunteering:
Weil is running their trial skills workshop for midlevels this week and weekend; it is 4 days long and requires volunteers for witnesses. This year, they asked for volunteers, but couldn’t fill the spaces. This is probably because volunteering means spending the entire weekend in Jersey City and doing several hours of prep work. So, to get the first years, who had all been deferred for either 6 months or 18 months and only started in Jan (some after graduating in 2010) to volunteer, the new head of one of the lit. groups picked a portion of the lit. first years alphabetically and sent them an email informing them that it had come to his attention that they had not yet signed up and they should do so unless they were getting married that weekend or were out of town for Weil billable matter. He also told them they had to copy him on their reply and provide a reason they could not attend if that was their response. I haven’t seen the email and barely heard about this since the first years are all scared to share.
If you’ve seen the email, throw it our way.
But I hope all of the Weil first years responded that they were “getting married” that weekend. Or divorced. Or whatever the hell this guy wanted to hear. It’s ridiculous for Weil to try to define what constitutes being too busy to volunteer.
And we’re not even talking about the biggest problem: nobody goes to Jersey City unless they have to.
Look, Weil is a smart firm, if they want associates to go to Jersey City to do some boring crap, pay them. PAY THEM A BONUS. Money solves everything! Well, at least it solves the problem of making people work on the weekends.
I hope to God that one Weil associate tells his or her boss, “Sorry, I’m not available that weekend because I’ll be volunteering in a soup kitchen and don’t have time to waste four days playing pretend lawyer.”