Some Deferred Associates Shun BigLaw; Will They Have to Repay Stipends?

Some deferred associates are reconsidering their careers after taking on public interest work while awaiting jobs in BigLaw.

One of them is Nathan Richardson, a deferred associate at Latham & Watkins who went to work for the nonprofit Resources for the Future where he researched climate change and the Gulf oil spill, the New York Times reports. Now he has decided to stay in public interest law, despite lower pay and big student loans.

“This is an amazing work environment,” he told the Times. “I’m working with a lot of really smart people and getting published. I’m not sure if there’s anywhere else I could do this, at least at this point in my career.”

The article warns of a potential fly in the ointment, however. According to the Times, “Someone who took a stipend from a law firm and then opted for public service law could also find themselves negotiating a payback plan for the stipend; policies differ from firm to firm on whether or how much of a stipend must be repaid.”

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