Law Students

Day Pitney to Transform Summer Associates into Apprentices

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Updated: Starting next year, Day Pitney will roll out a new “summer apprenticeship” program at its two largest offices that will emphasize on-the-job training.

Apprentices in the firm’s offices in Hartford, Conn., and Florham Park, N.J., will shadow Day Pitney lawyers, work with legal teams handling client matters, participate in one-on-one coaching sessions and attend training workshops, according to a law firm press release. The law students will also participate in diversity and community service activities.

Peter Wilson Jr., the firm’s director of diversity and legal recruiting, says he doesn’t know of any other law firms with an apprenticeship program for summer associates, although a couple have announced apprenticeships for their first-year lawyers.

Day Pitney set up the new program in response to students’ concerns that their summer experience doesn’t give them a good picture of what it’s like to be a junior associate. “What we’re going to try to do is to provide the most realistic experience we can for a short period of time,” he told the ABA Journal in an interview. “It will provide a fantastic foundation for our law students to really understand how a law firm works.”

The eight-week program will consist of two four-week sessions, one dedicated to work on a litigation team and the other to work on a transactional team. Students will be asked their legal interests, and the firm will try to match them with teams in those areas with available work.

Lawyers on these practice-area mentoring teams will be chosen because they are good mentors and they support the program.

Part of the training will focus on the economic realities of law firm practice, including billing practices and the importance of putting the client first. “Most attorneys come into a law firm and don’t understand the economics of how a law firm is successful,” Wilson told the ABA Journal. “The goal is to teach apprentices how the organization functions and how their billable time translates into dollars.”

But the emphasis won’t be entirely on money. The law firm will work with its summer associates to work on a community service event and participate in a diversity event. In the past, projects have included work with Habitat for Humanity, while diversity events have included outings to cultural museums and Juneteenth celebrations. There will also be the traditional social events for summer associates to mingle with Day Pitney lawyers.

The law firm is trimming its summer associate program somewhat. It ran for 11 weeks last year and 10 weeks this year. Next year it will be only eight weeks in length. And unlike this year, the law firm will not hire summers for its Boston and Stamford, Conn., offices next year.

Will pay remain the same? At this point, no decisions have been made about salaries, Wilson said. “I would say that the pay is certainly going to be competitive with the market.”

Hat tip to Above the Law.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. to include interview with Wilson.

Related coverage: “ ‘Select’ Howrey Associates to Earn $100K in New Training Program” “Drinker Biddle Cuts New Associate Pay, Plans In-House 1st-Year Training” “Law Firm Apprenticeships Could Cause Recruiting Problems, Critics Say”

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