Insourcing

No such thing as a free lunch?

What’s not to like about a summer associate program? Most law students are down with free lunches, fun events, interesting work, and fat paychecks.

Sure, there are exceptions — like the summer associate who quit via firm-wide email earlier this month, declaring that he’d “rather be farming.” But, for the most part, summer associate positions are coveted gigs — especially because they might lead to full-time employment after graduation.

We recently mentioned that entry-level Biglaw hiring is on the upswing. But that’s true as a general matter, not across the board.

Which firm is taking us back in time and canceling its summer associate program in two offices?

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Minnesota is beautiful this time of year.

Is having your back-office functions handled on-site — i.e., in the same location as the lawyers being serviced — now a luxury? More and more law firms are adopting the model of sending their administrative support functions to lower-cost locations.

Thanks to advances in technology, it’s no longer necessary to have your back office in the same pricey place as your lawyers. And it’s not surprising that firms are going in this direction when you consider the cost savings involved.

Which law firm expects to save millions of dollars a year by sending support staffers to the land o’ lakes?

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Scenic waterfront of Wheeling, West Virginia. And the town got a traffic light too!

We’ve written extensively about the offices of Orrick in Wheeling, West Virginia. It’s the place where non-partner track associates go to perform the kind of quasi-paralegal tasks that you really shouldn’t have to pay somebody $160,000 a year to get done.

Here’s the thing about these “onshore,” “insourcing” operations: they are successful. Ridiculously successful. In an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter called the decision to open the Wheeling center “one of the smartest decisions we’ve ever made for the firm and our clients.” And that’s coming from a man who made the smart decision not to merge with Dewey Ballantine.

That’s why every Biglaw managing partner, and every law student thinking of taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to law school, should pay attention to what’s going on in Wheeling…

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