Start Dates

proskauer rose logo.JPGProskauer Rose has joined the growing list of firms to defer current summer associates to 2011. But unlike other firms on that list, the Proskauer deferral pushes the 2010 class to “fall” 2011. Other firms have at least told their summer associates that they could start in January 2011.
Proskauer has already deferred its incoming class of new associates to March 2010, and the firm only gave those new hires a $20,000 stipend for their trouble. And the firm has asked incoming associates to voluntarily defer until January 2011 with a $60,000 stipend. Maybe participation in the voluntary deferral program by the class of 2009 has been so great that the firm felt it had to involuntarily defer its current summers to the fall of 2011?
But at this point, it doesn’t appear that Proskauer is offering any kind of deferral stipend to the class of 2010, and that has some summers grumbling.
Some summer reactions after the jump.

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DLA Piper logo.jpgDLA Piper, one of the biggest law firms in the country (and the world), has added its voice to the changing nature of Biglaw summer programs.
In a letter sent to law school deans and career service officers (and obtained by Above the Law), DLA Piper announced it was deferring its current summers and delaying recruiting for new summers.
For current summers, the program is similar to the one Weil Gotshal announced earlier this month. The earliest 2009 summer associates will be able to start is January 2011, and they will be encouraged to take a deferral and not start until January 2012. Here’s how the DLA memo puts it:

One result of these deferrals is that our current summer associates would start at the firm at approximately the same time as the Fellowship participants from our class of 2009, creating another potential class that may exceed demand. While we proactively reduced the size of our summer class for 2009 to half the size of the Summer 2008 class, the start date changes require that we adjust the start dates for this class as well. We have therefore made the decision to make offers to this Summer’s class in generally the same manner as the last class. We will make offers to our summer associates of 2009 soon after the program ends, and the offers will be for a January 2011 start date. We expect that some portion of the class will be encouraged to participate in a Fellowship program during 2011, further deferring the expected start date to January 2012 for some. We plan to keep these offers open until the NALP deadline of November 15.

That is bad news for summers that are currently at DLA, but it also means that summers who want to go to DLA will have to wait their turn.
More details after the jump.

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Quinn logo.jpgIf you are an incoming first year at Quinn Emanuel’s San Francisco or Silicon Valley office, you are probably on the final stretch of your CA bar exam preparations. If so, please stop reading this post right now. We don’t want to put any extra pressure on you guys.
For everybody else, you might be interested to know that Quinn Emanuel has deferred half of its incoming first year class in those two offices until January 2010.
As we understand it, the firm is not offering any kind of deferral stipend for the affected incoming associates.
Tipsters have been critical of the firm’s decision:

This is a double whammy. First, they hadn’t been deferred at all, were planning on starting in two months, so this is late notice. And second, telling people one week before the bar?!?!? that’s cold.

Well, it’s better than being told between the first and second day of the bar exam.
After the jump, Quinn Emanuel’s managing partner, John Quinn, explains the reason for this decision.

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Weil.gifBig news from Weil Gotshal today. The firm previously deferred its incoming associates to January 2010, with the option of deferring until January 2011 (with a $75,000 stipend).
In recognition of the fact that it will have some of the class of 2009 starting in January 2011, the firm is offering current summers — i.e., the class of 2010 — the option of deferring until January 2012. Above the Law received the following statement from Weil Gotshal:

Earlier today, we informed our 2009 summer associates of the following:
* We are offering each summer associate who receives an offer of permanent employment at the conclusion of this year’s Summer Program the option of deferring his or her start date from January 2011 to January 2012.
* Each incoming associate electing to defer will receive a $75,000 stipend and health care benefits. In order to receive this stipend, the deferring associate must spend 1,000 hours during the deferral year performing some form of Firm-approved public service work in the US or abroad, including interning for a judge, or working for a Firm client.
* An incoming associate may decide to travel or take a paid position during the deferral year. The Firm will only pay the stipend to those people doing public service work. However, the Firm will provide health care benefits to all deferring associates.
* As we did with the successful deferral program for the class of 2009 associates, we will assist those who elect to defer with identifying public service placements, clerkships, and client opportunities.

The earliest current summers can start at Weil is January 2011 (and that is of course dependent on whether they receive an offer from the firm). But the option to defer until 2012 is even more evidence that the class of 2010 could be worse off than the class of 2009.
Don’t even get me started on the class of 2011.
More details from the firm statement, after the jump.

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Hogan Hartson logo.jpgHogan & Hartson has already pushed back start dates for its incoming first year associates. The firm has laid off staff and laid off associates. And the firm has lowered associate salaries.
With all that writing on the wall, current Hogan summer associates couldn’t have been terribly surprised by today’s news. Here’s part of an internal email announcing the push back of class of 2010 start dates to 2011 for the D.C. and Northern Virginia offices:

We accordingly have decided that the offers we give this year’s summer class in D.C. and Northern Virginia will be for 2011. Deferring this class’s arrival for one year allows us the opportunity to make more offers to this year’s class than we otherwise could. U.S. offices other than D.C. and Northern Virginia similarly have assessed their needs for 2010 and 2011 and have made, or will be making, deferral decisions particular to those offices’ requirements.
The specifics of the deferral program have not yet been decided — only that the start date will be in 2011, not 2010.. The summers learned this news this morning; we hope you will make yourselves available to them to discuss the issue if, or when, they come to you for advice about their deferral year.

The firm declined to comment further on this matter.
In case they weren’t already, I hope that Hogan summers have been saving their money. It might have to last them for a while.
Earlier: Nationwide Start Date Watch: Hogan & Hartson Is Moving On Back
Staff Layoff Watch: Hogan & Hartson Lays Off 93 Staff
Hogan & Hartson Lets Go of 30 Senior Associates
Hogan & Hartson: ‘1800 Hours’ Track Follow Up

DLA Piper logo.jpgIncoming DLA Piper associates have to feel a little queasy about the state of the firm. DLA has already laid off 180 U.S. employees (and 140 people in the U.K.). And the firm has pushed back start dates to January 2010 for some associates, while encouraging incoming first year associates to use its Public Interest Fellowship and defer until January 2011.
And the firm is moving away from a lockstep system, at some point.
We previously mentioned that DLA wanted people to seriously consider taking the full year deferral. A couple of weeks ago, the National Law Journal reported that half of DLA’s incoming first years have taken the opportunity.
But the option is still voluntary, right? A couple of our sources seem to have received mixed messages from the firm.
After the jump, DLA and our tipsters try to get on the same page.

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ropes gray logo.JPGIf the class of 2009 is like the main cast on Lost, then the class of 2010 is starting to look like the Tailies. Ropes & Gray has decided to defer its current summer class until “Sometime, 2011.”
Here is the firm-wide memo that all Ropes & Gray associates received last week:

As we recently communicated to summer associates, we will be making offers to them according to the usual standards and in the same numbers as in the past. We have not set a definite start date for them, but it will be no earlier than January 2011. We are encouraging current summer associates to consider pursuing a clerkship or NAP fellowship.

Just like Cravath Skadden, Ropes is promising that its summer offer rate will be commensurate with past years. However, just like Cravath Skadden, Ropes makes no mention of any kind of incoming first-year deferral stipend that it intends to offer to the class of 2010.
UPDATE: We now know what kind of stipend Ropes will be giving to the class of 2010. See here.
In March, Ropes announced its New Alternatives plan, which deferred the class of 2009 to January 2010. Now the firm is encouraging its current summers (class of 2010) to seek a public interest fellowship between law school graduation and the new start date at the firm.
At least current Ropes summer associates should come out of this summer with offers in hand. There are a lot of Biglaw summers that would sign up for that, regardless of when they can actually start after graduation.
Read the full Ropes & Gray memo, after the jump.

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Pillsbury logo.JPGBack in May, we reported that Pillsbury Winthrop wanted some of its incoming first year associates to defer until January 2010, some to defer until 2011, and others to take $60,000 to go away entirely.
The firm couched all of these options as “voluntary.” But notwithstanding the firm’s choice of language, we reported that Pillsbury needed at least 22 of its incoming class of 54 associates to take the go away money, or defer for a year.
Pillsbury said that it would announce which associates were starting in January 2010 on June 26th. That was Friday.
But according to my iPhone “date and time” application (how people did anything before the iPhone, I do not know) it is Monday, June 29th. And there is still no word from Pillsbury. Here’s one tipster’s report:

As of this AM, still no news from the firm. Yet again, evidence they can’t be trusted – or don’t care about incoming associates. Their written letters to us said we would know by by Friday. I hope this is not how the firm conducts business with clients.

Should Pillsbury associates expect the firm to actually tell them when they can start? Or should they just start hanging out on the Acela and hope to catch a clue on the wind?
More reactions after the jump.

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massachusetts superior court.jpgLast week, the Massachusetts Trial Court got approval for a unique solution to address its budget shortfall, reported Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:

The Supreme Judicial Court’s Committee on Judicial Ethics has approved a proposal by Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan that would allow deferred law-firm associates to work for the Trial Court as “volunteer interns” while on the payroll of the firms that hired them.

Great for the court — it doesn’t have to pay for clerks. Great for deferred associates — they get valuable experience during their deferral year. Great for BigLaw — their incoming associates get clerkship experience. Everyone’s happy, right?
Well, not the 24 clerks who had been slotted to get those positions whose offers have been withdrawn. And not those troubled by the ethics of corporate-sponsored clerks in the courtroom. Though approving the arrangement, the Committee on Judicial Ethics admitted that there’s something a bit troubling about it:

The CJE acknowledged that allowing law firms to pay the salaries of clerks implicates portions of the Judicial Code of Conduct that require judges to avoid impropriety and appear unbiased. It also stated that the plan raises the issue of whether the volunteer interns are a “gift” or “favor” to the judges of the Trial Court from the law firms.

The CJE had a solution for that. Keep it all secret!

“Structuring the program in such a way that the law firms’ involvement is unknown not only to the public but also to the judges who will be ‘employing’ the volunteer interns will negate any impression that those law firms are in a special position to influence the judge,” the CJE panel wrote.

Members of the public might not be aware of the connection when they have a case before the court, but the general news-consuming public of Massachusetts knows about the plan now. It’s in the Boston Globe and is currently the newspaper’s number four most e-mailed story.
What do you think about the ethical hullabaloo? Vote in our poll, after the jump.

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This isn’t going to come as a galloping shock to most people, but it turns out that the firms that are making the most profit aren’t feeling the need to defer their incoming first year associates. Am Law Daily reports:

The only top ten firm that is making deferrals mandatory this year is Schulte, Roth & Zabel, which is requiring all new associates to start in 2010.
But the rest of the top ten most profitable partnerships are taking a different path. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges; Boies, Schiller & Flexner; Sullivan & Cromwell; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Kirkland & Ellis; and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton are starting all of their associates next fall as originally scheduled.

Congratulations to the incoming first years lucky enough to be heading one of these firms in the fall.
But it’s time to learn an important lesson about the difference between “revenue” and “profit.”
More after the jump.

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