Howrey began planning this program before the recession. Other firms appear to be starting similar programs as one way to cope with tighter times. Drinker Biddle & Reath, another national firm, announced in May that instead of deferring start dates, it will put new grads in a six-month apprenticeship-at reduced pay and billing rates. Law firm consultants agree that the way firms train, compensate, and charge for associates will be the most significant permanent change coming out of this downturn.
I applaud Howrey, Drinker and other big firms who are creating these programs to keep their clients from paying to train their young associates. I think it will also create better lawyers. The traditional big firm model is outdated and those firms who fail to adapt will not survive in the long run. If you are a business owner or a lawyer advising a business owner who needs to retain a law firm, make sure you are not paying to train that firm's young associates.
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