Thursday, December 23, 2010

A new approach to law firm hiring - will it catch on?

From the better late than never file (this was reported by Above the Law back in September but wasn't brought to my attention until now).  A Tennessee law firm wants to change the way new grads are recruited by waiting until their third year to take them for a test drive.  Here's the firm's press release: 

Waller Lansden launches Schola2Juris recruitment initiative at UT

Waller Lansden will be on campus at the College of Law on Monday, Sept. 13, to unveil its new recruitment program to 2L students. After months at the drawing board, the Nashville-based firm of 190 attorneys will send representatives to discuss the intensive, practice-specific apprenticeship program, Schola2Juris, that will become its new pathway for hiring entry-level associates. Kathleen Pearson, director of professional recruiting, explained, “Rather than anticipating our hiring needs almost two years in advance, this program will enable the firm to assess its actual needs by practice area and focus its energies and resources on students whose skills and interests align with those needs.”

Waller Lansden attorneys and Pearson will outline the program model, which is based on a six week fall apprenticeship with work assignments and feedback delivered remotely between students in Knoxville and firm attorneys in Nashville. Current 2L students will apply in July before their 3L year begins. The program will be held in early fall, and participants will visit Nashville for a fall weekend retreat and have regular interaction with partners and associates during the six-week program. Offers for associate positions will be in keeping with established timetables for legal recruitments, so students can compare their experience with traditional summer associate programs before accepting an offer of an associate position.

And here's ATL's Elie Mystal's take on this new approach to law student hiring:

1) Moving recruiting to right before 3L year (as opposed to before 2L year) is an idea some firms have been begging for.
2) You are applying for positions the firm knows it needs to fill, not jobs the firm hopes will be available.
3) Did they just say feedback could be delivered remotely? Good God, you mean there is some machine that has been invented that allows people to work on assignments and receive feedback without physically being in the same office?
4) What the hell else are you doing as a 3L anyway?

Will this approach catch on?  Perhaps among regional firms looking to hire from regional law schools (which is where most legal hiring occurs anyway) but I think it's unlikely to gain much traction in the "national" market.

You can read more about this story from ATL here.

Hat tip to Dean Athornia Steele.


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