When many law firms decided to defer associates last year, some gave the option of taking a year-long (lower paid) stint at various public interests organisations.
The thought being, of course, that the firm’s would get some decent PR, the organisations some manpower and the students experience and, well, something to do for the year.
But what happens when the year is over?
In a piece for The American Spectator by Russ Ferguson (and noted here by the ABA Journal), Ferguson suggested that some of those deferred associates are planning to try to stay at their public interest job or find similar work.
Why? In short, they found they can live on the lower salary, they discovered the work to be both enjoyable and meaningful. and they noticed that they are working way less than their classmates that actually started their firm jobs on time.
Associates deferred for a year aren’t scheduled to begin working at their firm until the fall, so it will be then when we really see how the numbers play out. While we doubt it will be anywhere near a majority of associates who choose to forgo their firm jobs, it will be interesting to see how many do.
Firms are full of associates who say they only took the job working for the man to pay off student loans. Some of them are serious, some of them are half-serious. In other words, they would, in theory, love to do public interest work, but the lure of money is just too good to be true.
But if one actually spends time in a fulfilling job where they immediately do actual work, it could be right that it will be tough to want to join the hallowed halls and sweatshop-type hours their firm life promises.
Pictured is not, of course, a currently deferred associate. Instead, it’s the young Barack Obama, who famously down biglaw for public interest work.
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