Monday, March 09, 2009

3Ls Shifting Their Sleepless Nights to 1Ls?

A gem exists in the ATL comments to the Morgan Lewis layoff post.

In order to avoid revoking 3L offers, ML decided to defer their ENTIRE incoming class to the following year.

But what of the 2L summers? ML sent each of them a "reassuring" email today as well. 2Ls who receive an offer at the end of the summer will not be allowed to start until the fall of 2011.

So I ask: what of the current 1Ls? Apparently ML isn't going to hire any summers during OCIP in the fall (and will not have a summer class in 2010)?

Interesting times we live in (and by "interesting" I mean "shitty")...

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26 Comments:

Anonymous CDR said...

Wow. That is ridiculous!!! Does this mean that they (and the other 3Ls at firms who are offering stipends for public interest work for a year) will be eligible for Boalt's LRAP? Will it be harder to get a public interest job/fellowship now that there are so many laid-off attorneys and deferred first year associates in the mix?

3/09/2009 12:38 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Even though this seems "shitty," I think you have to give props to MLB if it follows through with this plan. It is honoring any commitments it has already made at the expense of future recruiting.

3/09/2009 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. MLB is not honoring its commitments - they are laying off attorneys and forcing 3Ls who had planned to start this year to start in late 2010. This may be economically necessary for the firm, but I just don't see how you can term this as "honoring commitments".

3/09/2009 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are MLB 3Ls eligible for LRAP, assuming they're volunteering at a public interest firm and taking MLB's $5k / month? Our dean is going to be pissed about this!

3/09/2009 1:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm guessing that Boalt doesn't have a policy in place for this. I'm also guessing, however, that most nonprofits are not going to be paying MLB "first-years" separate from their MLB stipend. So it's not like LRAP eligibility would become some sort of windfall. But that's all speculation...

3/09/2009 1:03 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Also, under any revised Boalt policy, I'm sure the $100,000 from MLB would count as "income" for LRAP purposes. Using the LRAP calculator along with the maximum theoretical loan debt ($100,000) and monthly payment ($1,226), I'm getting an annual LRAP benefit of $12. So there's that.

3/09/2009 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to bet our cheap school will come up with a policy that doesn't allow MLB 3Ls and other like them from getting LRAP.

3/09/2009 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, the MLB 3Ls get 60. Try the calculator again and the LRAP benefit is $1142 / month

3/09/2009 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes this will make it harder for people seeking public interest jobs...you can't beat free labor. and many places are on hiring freezes anyway. its shitty for everyone...but it feels great to be told you have to do public interest every summer to have a shot at a job after graduation only to then be told there are no jobs thanks to all the free firm labor.

3/09/2009 1:15 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

My fault, I was thinking $100,000 for some reason.

3/09/2009 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like similar moves are inevitable for most law firms. Maybe MLB and Latham did their 3Ls a favor by doing this relatively early.

Two other thoughts:
- Competition for clerkships is going to be insane for the 2Ls.
- I expect more firms to do something similar to this, which means that 1Ls are screwed.

3/09/2009 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this is something of a blessing in disguise for a lot of us. We always hear about how lawyers are so miserable working in biglaw, and the economic climate is making us explore other options instead of just taking the path of least resistance.

I'd feel a lot more comfortable saying that if didn't have $120k in student loans.

3/09/2009 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As regards LRAP, my understanding is that it takes at least three years of continuous public service before any actual debt is forgiven, before then the student is still on the hook to Boalt to repay all the loans Boalt as paid off to the original debtors.

3/09/2009 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:17, I don't know where you're getting your info about LRAP, but your understanding is incorrect. LRAP works on a six month cycle. Every 6 months, Boalt makes you an interest free, forgivable loan, which they forgive at the outset of the next six month cycle provided you show documentation that you spent the entire loan paying down eligible student debt, and worked during the six month period in an approved public interest job.

3/09/2009 2:47 PM  
Blogger Carbolic said...

LRAP clearly shouldn't cover anyone in this circumstance. People are receiving $60K/etc. from their firms on the expectation that they will start working at the firm in several months.

It's similar to clerkship recipients. These people aren't entering a career of public service; they're just delaying their Biglaw entry for several months. If they wanted to do public service, then they wouldn't be accepting the money from Latham/Morgan Lewis in the first place.

The LRAP program is largely funded by student tuition--and current students have enough worries about their ability to pay back their own school loans, never mind other peoples'.

3/09/2009 6:25 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

LRAP will cover you if you work in public interest for one year and then go on to a firm. Why should this be any different?

Is opting for public service instead of being forced into it by your firm better from a public interest perspective? Aren't you still doing the work?

3/09/2009 7:05 PM  
Blogger Carbolic said...

LRAP isn't a welfare program. It's intended to encourage people to do public interest by forgiving law school loans. In other words, the objective is changing the behavior (i.e., career decisions) of Berkeley students and graduates.

Forgiving the loans of MLB 3Ls isn't going to change their career decisions. Nor is it going to increase the number of people doing public interest. These 3Ls are already being incentivized by the stipend and the crappy legal market. LRAP would be completely ineffectual in that circumstance.

To return to your initial comparison, Mike--there are two reasons why we give LRAP to people who only do public interest for one year. (1) We are not omniscient, so we can't see the future. (2) We assume (if for no other reason than administrability) that people had other opportunities and are making a financial sacrifice to do public interest (even for one year). But both of these are clearly inapplicable here. We know they intend to join the firm next year: they've already accepted. And we know that they aren't making any sacrifices, because they don't really any other career options. Most of them would gladly accept another biglaw job if one became available.

Of course, if any MLB 3L wants to stay in public interest, they can withdraw their employment acceptance and return the stipend. Then they can start receiving LRAP contributions.

I don't mean to sound heartless; MLB 3Ls and others in their circumstance are in a awful situation, and I feel very sorry for them. But I'm trying to be efficient, especially since LRAP is funded by student tuition.

3/09/2009 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's important to correct two misperceptions re: LRAP:

(1) Clerkships: Actually many people (myself included!) are committed to going into public interest afterwards. That's why Boalt changed its plan, and will cover clerkships for people in this position.

(2) LRAP allows a three year "grace period" before entry. That is to say, you may work at a firm and accumulate a "nest egg" before jumping ship for a career in public interest. Whether or not this policy is beneficial is of course subject to debate. But it does allow those with heavy undergrad or other educational debt (not serviced by LRAP) or those with family obligations some freedom of career choice. To that end, I think LRAP for ML recipients is understandable -- especially if, after working in public interest for a year they are likely to do increased amounts of pro bono, or to return to public service later.

3/09/2009 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's remember that not everyone in "biglaw" intends to stay - a significant percentage eventually defect to public service. This is not merely due to the pyramid structure of biglaw, but also because a whopping 80% of law school entrants INTEND to go into public interest in the first place, but feel compelled by debt (+ peer pressure, and the ease of access to corporate recruiting) into the private sector.

3/09/2009 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck peer pressure. I mean, seriously. Are you twelve?

(This is not directed at you, directly, 9:17; rather, it is directed by those succumbing to peer pressure, still.)

3/09/2009 9:23 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm not twelve. I'm this many! Oh, can you not see my hands?

3/09/2009 10:22 PM  
Blogger Carbolic said...

1. Originally, judicial clerks were exempt from LRAP but could receive it after the clerkship ended. I don't think there's any reason why clerks really deserve LRAP, since, as the original rationale pointed out, it's more of an individual investment in one's career than actual public service. That being said, Berkeley's prestige increases when when more people clerk, so it is maybe worthwhile (from a purely institutional perspective) to ensure that people going into public interest don't make a (short-sighted) decision not to apply for clerkships based on loan payment considerations.

2. The grace period seems entirely sensible to me, especially since people may leave law firms before retiring their debt. Assuming people made reasonable contributions to their debt over a period of time, I don't see any reason why some form of LRAP shouldn't be available beyond that date. (Though it would be hard to "weed out" people who would be leaving biglaw anyway because they can't stand the hours.)

3. I don't see how any of this suggests that incoming ML associates should receive LRAP for their year "cooling their heels" doing public interest work. You could argue (fairly) that the year shouldn't count as "law firm work" for the grace period. But there's no reason to think that someone forced into public interest against their will is going to do more pro bono work when they start work as an associate. And while it's always nice for people to get free money, applying LRAP here doesn't actually accomplish anything for the public interest.

4. 80% of law school applicants don't intend to enter public interest; they just say that because that's the kind of thing you say when you apply to law school. Trust me: Ed Tom isn't scouring applications for people who want to buy a 30 foot sailboat. And let's be honest. It's easy to say, "Oh, I want to do public interest" when you're 23 years old and you don't have a spouse, or children, or a home mortgage to support (Or ailing parents. Or medical bills. Or college savings funds. Or retirement plans in a down economy. Or...)

3/09/2009 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of grads are going to be pushed into public interest work because of the recession. Is that a bad thing? Does it matter if public interest is part of their long-term plan? Given the uncertainty about the future of the legal profession, does anyone's "plan" even matter?

Some people will try out PI work and like it and never go back to big law.

Others will do it for a few years and then hop back aboard the biglaw bus when there is space for them.

There will be some people who today are emphatically committed to PI that will end up back in the for-profit world at some point in the future.

It makes no sense to try to discern between these three types, because we'll never know which is which until the time comes. If a firm is paying you a stipend to work for free, that should be treated no differently than an a nonprofit paying your salary. The argument that they are less committed to PI-work in the short term is purely speculative.

3/10/2009 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here 12:42. When Latham first announced its program, I happened to overhear a conversation where a 3L slated to work there said he emailed within 20 minutes to sign up for the program. This type of enthusiasm suggests people in biglaw might JUMP at the opportunity to work in the public sector -- and haven't done so because of the difficulties of landing a PI job (I believe Latham helps place candidates, though I could be mistaken on this point) and simply because of inertia.

While I understand the point that people should stand up to peer pressure, I have immense sympathy (indeed empathy) for those who did not. I myself nearly took the firm route not because I am not committed to public interest, but because I thought it possible that some law firm work (particularly impact litigation, witness firm involvement in Gitmo cases, including Seth Waxmann's oral arguments in Boumediene) might actually FURTHER public interest goals in the long run more than many non-profit orgs lacking resources. While I ultimately opted to pursue the traditional PI path, I can see the logic of working in biglaw and I think that condemning those who do can only hurt the public-private sector.

Regardless of motives, a ML kid working for an understaffed non-profit = communities served that might not otherwise be. And, while the "PI sector is finite" argument has *some* truth, I think that's because many of us are drawn to prestigious orgs like the ACLU, etc. But there are so many tiny non-profits out there that could benefit from the education Boalt bestows and that probably would not attract Boalt grads but for this economy and firms pushing people out there. Let's count our blessings.

3/10/2009 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further note that ML is known for attracting PI/PS types. It is one of the only firms that allows "automatic splits" with the public sector and I know of many who worked there because of this. I don't think the assumption that individuals who accepted their offers are not committed to public interest holds water. At the very least, it's an assumption that requires the support empirical data.

3/10/2009 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

think ML and these other firms will count all this time as pro bono? think it might breed a bit of resentment in these non-profits when a fresh graduate parachutes in and is paid double what the others are because the big firm is paying?

3/10/2009 10:50 AM  

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