Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One large law firm starts residency training program for non-partner track associates

Greenberg Traurig has announced plans to start what may be a first in the nation residency program for new lawyers.  It will work somewhat like a medical residency.  Those hired will be paid less than partner-track associates (though the firm hasn't yet said how much less) and in exchange they'll get to spend as much as one third of their time in training.  At the end of the year long training period, attorneys in the residency program will either become partner-track associates, become what the firm calls a "practice group attorney," or they will leave the firm. The training during that probationary period will come from tagging along with firm lawyers as they work (though the client won't be billed for the trainee's time), taking Practising Law Institute online courses as well as the other professional development courses offered by the firm to all associates, and "some extra 'hands-on learning' with partners" according to a firm spokesman.  The The AmLaw Daily has more details.

Calling All Unemployed Law Grads: Greenberg Is Hiring

Greenberg Traurig has a proposition to make to recent law school graduates: Join the firm as an associate, but only if you're willing to spend a third of your time training rather than churning out billable work.

The catch? Those who sign on will be paid considerably less than the typical starting associate, will bill at a much lower hourly rate—and may wind up only sticking with the firm for a year.

The offer is the basis of what Greenberg is billing as a new residency program that is being rolled out across its 29 U.S. offices. Firm leaders envision the program as a way of recruiting talented associates it wouldn't have hired during the traditional on-campus interview process for one reason or another. It will also allow the firm to assign junior lawyers to client matters without billing their work at the usual cringe-inducing hourly rates.

. . . .

[Partner Kara] MacCullough says the fellows program benefits both recent law graduates and Greenberg. "I think it absolutely makes economic sense for the firm," she says, adding that clients have been eager to use the junior lawyers, who cost less than a typical associate, and have allowed them to sit in on meetings and calls—at no cost to the client—as part of their training. The rest of the training, MacCullough says, comes via online courses with the Practising Law Institute, the professional development courses the firm offers all associates, and extra "hands-on learning" with partners without concern about billing for the time.

With the firmwide residency initiative—spearheaded by Greenberg shareholder, vice president and treasurer Bradford Kaufman, who also heads the associate development program—each office will have the autonomy to decide how many residents it hires. Once the initial one-year period ends, residents will either become a regular-track associate, take on the new practice group attorney title, or leave the firm, Rosenbaum says.
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