Law Firms

NYC Law Dept to Firms: Send Us Your Deferred Associates

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At least 25 furloughed and deferred associates in New York City have found temporary gigs this fall at the city’s law department—and there’s room for more.

The law department, which reached out to laid-off associates last April with offers of a haven to sharpen their skills while job-hunting, is now the go-to host for associates faced with 2011 start-dates, according to Stuart Smith, the law department’s director of legal recruitment. The department, which currently has 13 deferred associates, is well-equipped to train, mentor and provide substantial work to large classes of new attorneys.

“For the city, there’s always a lot of work,” Smith said in an interview with the ABA Journal. “For us, the extra help is gravy, and the department is used to training groups of 50 or more people; whereas other organizations may have a harder time with integration.”

The volunteers, many of which receive stipends from their firms, practice full-time alongside the city’s first-year assistant corporation counsel on a variety of matters, including class actions; research discrete legal questions; and conduct document reviews. They also tackle their own clients and cases on less-complex issues, such as small claims disputes.

Samantha Springer, a Fordham University School of Law graduate, reached out to the law department when her offer from Proskauer Rose was deferred to November 2010.

“I feel like I have a better understanding of what it means to be a litigator,” Springer said. “I’ve been able to get the full experience of what it means to handle a case from start to finish.”

The program is still accepting applications for the fall, as well as from those seeking immediate, unpaid positions.

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