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Law Practice Management

For One Law Firm, Canceled Summer Associate Program Is Old News

Posted Aug 21, 2009 1:49 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Check out the website for Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, and you’ll see this cryptic post on a page for summer associate recruiting: “The firm is not actively recruiting law students at this time.”

Several law firms have announced cuts to their summer associate programs this year as they scramble to cope with reduced demand for their services. But at Pittsburgh-based Eckert Seamans, the decision to do away with a summer program was made about five years ago.

Since then Eckert Seamans has hired all of its associates laterally from other firms.

CEO Timothy Ryan says he pushed to do away with the summer associate program because of the expense. “We couldn’t afford it,” he told the ABA Journal. “The summer programs were costing us a lot of money. We couldn’t charge rates to justify the salaries and programs.”

“Simply stated, we can’t afford to pay $130,000 or $140,000 for a first-year associate. Our clients just can’t pay the freight, or they won’t pay the freight."

Ryan says the new recruiting method is producing “fabulous” results. “We have very low turnover and very low difficulty finding the talent that we need,” he says.

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