Clients Balk At Paying Summer Associates

It’s bad enough that no one in or out of law school is getting work, but now many clients are telling firms that they won’t let summer associates work on their cases. Citigroup announced that as of July 1, it will no longer pay for summer associates time.

There is a growing reluctance by clients to pay for the training of associates. I have to agree with this; if I were paying a law firm, I’d really like to be paying someone who had taken the bar and had already graduated from law school. A client not wanting to pay to train students isn’t new:

J. William Dantzler Jr., a tax partner at White & Case who oversees hiring in New York, said with regard to billing clients for summer associates, it has been “a slide for 10 years. More and more clients don’t want summer associates to bill to them. When I started almost all clients would accept it. And it’s evolved to where a lot of clients don’t.”

The article notes that some firms don’t even bother to bill for the rising 3Ls time:

Law firm partners generally say they tend to write off much of the billable hours summer associates submit in recognition that, as lawyers in training, they are not as efficient as mid-level or senior associates. But when top-tier New York firms do bill for their work, the rate can go as high as $225 an hour.

There is good news for the few associates that got work; because the class sizes are so small they might actually learn something instead of just going to lunch with the partners:

This year’s summer associates “have the ability to get a greater proportion of substantive work than if they were competing with a larger class, and they get more individualized attention from partners and associates,” said Jonathan Schaffzin, co-administrative partner at Cahill Gordon.

Leave a Reply