Business of Law

20% of Legal Departments Won't Pay for Work by New Associates; Are Internships the Answer?

Corporations are increasingly refusing to pay law firms for work by their newest lawyers, raising questions about the traditional law firm model.

Law firms give document review and research tasks to young associates, billing corporate clients for the work, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. But a recent survey documents the trend in which corporations are refusing to pay for associate training.

More than 20 percent of the in-house legal departments responding to the survey said they refuse to pay for the work of first- or second-year lawyers, at least in some matters. Almost half the companies said they put those policies in place in the last two years. The survey was conducted for the Wall Street Journal by the Association of Corporate Counsel.

R. Bruce McLean, the chairman of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, told the Wall Street Journal that law firms will have to find solutions if the trend continues. He said the answer could be a new billing model or intensive training programs modeled on those in the United Kingdom.

Prior coverage: “Some Corps Cut Costs By Hiring Law Grads to Work In-house Instead of Using BigLaw Associates” “Debevoise and Skadden 1st-Years to Spend First Month Learning B-School Skills Under New Program” “No Apprenticeship Trend Yet, Although Law Firms with Programs Report Success”

ABA Journal: “Warnings Toll for BigLaw Firms Resistant to Change”

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