Informal Talks Mull Permanent 1-Year Public-Interest Stints for Associates

Could one-year stints at public interest organizations become a permanent option for law grads offered jobs at big firms?

Adriene Holder, the attorney-in-charge of civil practice at the Legal Aid Society in New York, told the New York Law Journal that informal discussions about the possibility are under way.

Law firms, law schools and nonprofits are informally talking about a program in which graduates would have the option of joining a public interest organization for a year before starting practice at law firms, Holder told the publication. “It’s a concept we’d really like to talk more about,” she said.

Rowan Wilson, the hiring partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, said the law firm won’t agree to a permanent option until it sees how its deferred associates perform on the job, the story says. The law firm paid $80,000 each to 48 associates who voluntarily deferred their start dates, with the option of doing public interest work.

“We’ll measure what sort of skills these people developed in that year,” he told the New York Law Journal. “What we would do in the future I don’t know, but we definitely now will have a big data set to look at where we really haven’t had one before.”

The New York City Bar estimates that 125 to 140 associates with deferred start dates are working at government agencies and nonprofits. Apparently, some associates expect to be deferred next year as well.

The Staten Island District Attorney’s office has already received two applications for next year from two associates who expect to be deferred at Cravath, the story says.

Related coverage: “Public Interest Lawyer Says Loaned Associates Should Be Permanent Program”

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