Monday, March 16, 2009

The Good Samaritan Effect

In light of our earlier open thread regarding changes in BigLaw compensation, we wanted to highlight a new emerging trend a reader alerted us to.  It appears that a few firms, instead of "[just] hand[ing] out severance package[s]," have given attorneys the option of working in public interest for lower salaries.  

As Stephanie Chen of CNN reports, many associates are jumping at this opportunity.  This seems like a fantastic idea to us.  We commend the initiative taken by firms that have encouraged associates to take on public interest work in any respect.

24 comments:

  1. really great of these firms

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  2. Nice read. I'm sure Above the Law will post this in the next three hours too.

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  3. Call me mean or evil or whatever, but I don't want a paycut and would be pissed if my firm makes me take one to be FORCED to help others.

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  4. I work in a legal services office, and we are overwhelmed. How can I get these firms to send their deferred associates to us? we'll gladly take them and give them lots of interesting work!

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  5. Above the Law actually reported this stuff as it happened, all last week.

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  6. @ 1:00/4:12--

    4:09 is right that ATL covered this in terms of specific firms offering deferrals and sabbaticals. Something I haven't seen, however--which the article insinuates may happen--is firms allowing employees to stay on in their current capacity at a lower rate to just do pro bono work. I see this as a real possibility, and wonder whether this has happened already (and whether it will happen in the future).

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  7. Lets not fool ourselves. This isn't about doing well by doing good, its' a way to force people out without taking the heat for firings. People who take leaves from their firms will never get their jobs back unless things change w/ the economy. Obviously this doesn't apply to firms letting people do all pro bono while at the firm although I'm sure there are firm politics problems w/ doing that.

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  8. 4:43, so what? I am very happy firms are doing this; it is great for scoiety

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  9. 4:52, ...and bad for soon-to-be unemployed associates who have their own families to feed.

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  10. What type of effect will this have the market for public interest jobs? If BigLaw associates are competing for these positions, will law students who actually want to enter the public interest field have much more difficulty finding a job?

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  11. It'll shut the do-gooders out

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  12. Actually, Craig ATL did not post this news....until this morning: http://abovethelaw.com/2009/03/morning_docket_31709.php

    Good job, as usual.

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  13. 12.43-I work public interest and we don't want people who are only there to collect some stipend. We want real, passionate workers who are here to make a difference. Plus, we hire very competitive candidates, many of whom would not qualify for big firm jobs.

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  14. Give me a break 5:47, the public interest types are the oens shut out of firm work. Everyone knows that.

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  15. I work in public interest. I would welcome the opportunity to expose a would-be big firm associate to our work and hopefully inspire him/her to pursue a career in working for justice as opposed to money. I cringe at how they're getting these opportunities that others worked harder for but might not get, but if it's a big firm associate or nobody, I'll gladly take the associate.

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  16. By the way, 5:57,

    I clerked in the SDNY before working for legal services. I chose working for justice over working for money. And I had options.

    5:58

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  17. @ 5:47--

    I can imagine that's a legitimate concern but, as 5:58/6:00 notes, you're still getting the chance to work with someone who may be inspired. I've ended up being "passionate" about tons of things I never would've done without some very particular circumstances leading me to it.

    @ 5:57--

    I disagree. If we accept what 5:47 says, just the opposite is true. I'm not sure exactly what public interest employers look for because I've never interviewed with them, but I very much doubt they're "safety" options for anyone. The people I do know who've gone that route have been hardworking, intelligent and very qualified.

    @ 5:58/6:00--

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We appreciate having you around.

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  18. Good to hear about this, thanks.

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  19. Hi. I am not a lawyer, although I was married to one for 9 years... I am, however, now a partner with a vendor that does electronic discovery, imaging and scanning. I came to it from building orphanages around the world (www.oiww.org), but I too had cash-flow problems because of the economy. I have got this vendor -- my new "day job" -- to agree to do work for pro bono projects at-cost. If you need help, e-mail me at jluce@lucetec.com. My personal website is www.jimluce.com. Let me know if I can help you. I also write for HuffPo and LOVE comments... (www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-luce). Cheers, Jim

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  20. OOPS - forgot - vendor is as follows:

    Elite Imaging & Discovery
    "Technology with a Conscience"
    920 Third Avenue @ 55th Street
    New York, N.Y. 10022
    www.elitediscovery.com
    Tel: 212-644 6102, ext. 102

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  21. Jim...fantastic ideas!

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