Poll Suggests Culture Gap Between Deferred Associates, Public Interest Lawyers

Updated: Deferred associates polled by the New York City Bar were generally satisfied with their training with public interest groups, but they weren’t as enthusiastic about their relationship with fellow lawyers employed by the groups.

The lawyers gave low satisfaction ratings to their public interest colleagues and to their integration in the office, according to the report (PDF). The bar’s online survey generated 47 responses.

Lynn Kelly, executive director of the city bar, told the New York Law Journal she’s pleased the deferred associates said their work had been rewarding, but she’s troubled by findings suggesting a culture gap.

“There was an early identification of the issue of how do you take people who’ve never really worked in a public interest environment and plop them down in the middle of a public interest organization,” Kelly said.

A negative for public interest organizations is the cost of training and supervising the deferred associates. City bar programs helped with training, but “the costs involved in the supervision are real costs,” Kelly told the legal publication.

On the positive side, 92 percent of the deferred associates responding to the poll said they would recommend their placement to a future deferred associate. Eighty-nine percent thought the skills they had acquired would help in their future career, and 73 percent said the placement had increased their interest in pro bono.

[The bar has since retracted the finding of a culture gap. See “Report of a Deferred Associate Culture Gap Was a Mistake, Bar Says.”]

Updated on March 19 to link to new story retracting the culture gap finding.

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