Fla. Law Schools See Flood of Law Firm Requests for Unpaid Summer Associates
Posted Aug 23, 2010 6:06 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Law schools in Florida have gotten a flood of requests from small and midsize law firms seeking summer associates willing to work for free—but career officials are not pleased.
The schools refuse to post the requests and refer the firms to federal labor laws on unpaid internships, the Daily Business Review reports.
Robert Levine, assistant dean for career development at Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad Law Center, tells the Daily Business Review that the U.S. Department of Labor encourages unpaid internships to be coordinated through the school's clinical program.
"It's a big problem because the students want the experience and the firms need the help," Levine told the publication. "All of the law schools throughout the state are dealing with this issue."
There are few instances where for-profit businesses can use unpaid interns, experts say. Labor standards, for example, state that an employer must derive "no immediate advantage" from the intern's work.
Some students and grads, however, are willing to work without a paycheck, the story says. John Sumberg, managing partner of Bilzin Sumberg Baena & Axelrod in Miami, said his firm is among those hearing from the would-be workers.
"Yes, we've had people write and offer to work for free," Sumberg told the Daily Business Review. "We would not consider doing that or cutting pay. It's so tough out there. We were inundated with resumés. I'm hopeful that this will pass and we'll get back to normal-sized summer programs, which would be good for the students and the law firms."