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Law Practice Management

‘Select’ Howrey Associates to Earn $100K in New Training Program

Posted Jun 22, 2009 8:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In what may be a harbinger of the future for other well-known law firms, Howrey has just announced a new two-year training program that will offer "meaningful training" for "select" first-year associates.

They will be taking a substantial pay cut from the top BigLaw starting salary of $160,000 or so in recent years. However, they will get $25,000 bonuses to start, and upon successful completion of their training, in addition to their first- and second-year salaries of $100,000 and $125,000, respectively. And, most important, they will actually have jobs that begin this fall, according to the National Law Journal and Above the Law.

"Higher compensation may be offered to candidates with special qualifications, such as advanced technical degrees or clerkships," the firm notes in a press release announcing the new training program.

In an interview with the NLJ, managing partner Robert Ruyak compares the firm's new training program with medical residencies for young doctors.

"The old model is broken," he says. "You're bringing on these extremely bright individuals and letting them waste their careers buried in documents where they aren't really learning the practical skills it takes to be a lawyer."

Under Howrey's new training program, new lawyers are expected to spend only one-third of their time on billable work during their first year, and half of their time on billable work during the second year. They will also gain valuable experience by working on pro bono matters, the press release says.

As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, many incoming first-years at major law firms are being asked to defer their start dates by as much as a year or 18 months as their employers struggle to adjust to a drop in legal work because of the economic downturn and pressure by corporate clients seeking to obtain maximum value for their legal dollars.

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Drinker Biddle Cuts New Associate Pay, Plans In-House 1st-Year Training"

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