Sunday, October 10, 2010
It's a trend that sounds good but never really gained much traction; law firms creating an "apprenticeship" program for new law grads in order to teach them practice skills before letting them loose on clients. Some have suggested that these new-fangled apprenticeship programs are merely a pretext to hire law grads at a reduced salary. That doesn't seem especially credible to me since, in this job market, law firms hardly need a "pretext" to pay new hires less than they would have paid before the market tanked. Rather, the "apprenticeship" model seems like a very good idea to me that surprisingly hasn't caught on more.
At least one New Jersey law firm agrees. According to the National Law Journal:
Gibbons [law firm] has a partial answer: one that echoes from eras past, when young attorneys cut their teeth at law office clerkships. The Newark, N.J., firm has launched an one-year "apprenticeship" program to allow newly admitted lawyers an opportunity to learn the ropes.
The program "exposes recent law school graduates to the day-to-day responsibilities of law firm junior associates" and trains them for that role, the firm said in announcing its first apprentice, John Cahill, a 2010 Seton Hall University School of Law graduate who began in September in the Intellectual Property Department.
David De Lorenzi, chair of the Intellectual Property Department and mastermind behind the apprenticeship program, says the concept had been discussed at firm advisory board meetings for some time.
In effect, the firm is hiring new grads as a "look-see" visitors whom the firm will evaluate to determine if the apprentices merit "permanent" offers. While grads probably aren't happy about the prospect of working for a firm on a trial basis in order to prove themselves, as a practical matter new grads have never had much job security and certainly not in these times. As the firm explains:
[The apprenticeship program is a]vailable to law school graduates who have taken or passed the bar, [it's] a paid position -- with equivalent compensation to that of an Appellate Division clerk, about $48,000 per year -- that could lead to a full-time offer at the end of the one-year period, De Lorenzi says.
Apprentices will participate in training, do research and "shadow" attorneys in court and during client meetings