Posted Jun 11, 2012 05:35 pm CDT
Partner Larry O’Bryan understands that the $10,000 a year his small Boston law firm wants to pay a new associate isn’t a big enough salary for most new law graduates to live on, since many have hefty student loans.
In fact, he may well understand that better than most, since he himself started “under similar terms and conditions.” But, as with many other young attorneys that Gilbert & O’Bryan has trained over the years, the low-paid starting associate job positioned him to move up the legal career ladder, he tells the ABA Journal.
For some associates, that meant a switch to a job in government or another law firm, once they learn how to handle the civil matters that individuals bring to them. In his own case, the job resulted in a partnership at Gilbert & O’Bryan.
“If someone sticks with us, they may be a partner someday too,” he says, and it’s expected that an associate may leave after a year or two if a better opportunity arises.
“We’re very proud when our associates move on to other law firms or government positions,” he says, noting that more than 20 associates have done so.
Meanwhile, being able to pay a new associate at this low level for the first year makes it possible for the two-attorney firm to afford to hire and train an inexperienced lawyer to help with its work, he points out. “Small firms and sole practitioners are struggling in this economy as well.”
After the first year, the associate is expected to make significantly more if he or she stays at Gilbert & O’Bryan.
So far, the firm has received more than 50 applications for the job, O’Bryan says. While it may be impossible for a recent graduate to live on the salary, the job can be a good fit for someone, say, who is married with a working spouse and looking for a chance to reenter the legal profession without any recent experience.
The job is in compliance with wage and hour laws, he says, because there is a professional exception to the minimum wage requirement. Statutory benefits are provided and required deductions are made from the associate’s pay.
“This has been something that has worked for both the firm and the associates,” he says.
ABAJournal.com: “Boston Law Firm Got 32 Applicants for Attorney Job Paying $10,000 a Year, Partner Says”