First-Year Associates Just Aren't Worth $300 Hour

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on October 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

First-year associates at law firms are getting overpaid for fetching documents from a box of discoverable documents.

Is this really all that surprising to anyone?

When you first graduated from law school, did you really think your clumsy services were worth a good $200-300 an hour? Be honest.

Law school may have taught newly-minted attorneys how to do Westlaw research, but how many actually graduate knowing how to be a real lawyer?

Not that many.

Now, it seems that the corporate world is starting to catch up to the fact that most first-years just don't know what they're doing. About 20% of in-house legal departments say that they refuse to pony up money to pay for first or second-year attorneys, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel.

And this trend seems to be growing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After all, why pay so much money to train some BigLaw firm's associates? It's essentially what corporations are doing when they pay for legal services that are staffed by young lawyers.

So what does this mean for associates at firms?

Never worry. Maybe your firm will finally implement a proper training program so you aren't thrown into the fire on your first day.

Or even better, maybe law schools should catch up and mandate some practical coursework. Most schools don't offer classes where you learn how to draft discovery requests and well, do what real lawyers do.

Maybe law school should teach attorneys how to lawyer. It might make sense. Think about it this way: would you like to trust your health to a first-year doctor if medical school just taught students the theory behind medicine? Why do we ask corporations to do the same when it comes to their legal work?

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