May 11, 2009 2:10 PM
Drinker Biddle to Incoming Associates: Homeschooling for You
Posted by Rachel Breitman
Philadelphia's Drinker Biddle & Reath is saying no to associate deferrals and yes to lawyer training. As reported Monday by The Legal Intelligencer, an Am Law Daily sibling publication, the firm will open its doors to 37 new associates in September. Rather than immediately assign the incoming lawyers to client matters, the firm will enroll its hires in a new training program that will provide courses on taking depositions, writing briefs, and meeting client needs. The instructors will include Drinker attorneys, professional development staff, and firm clients. The 37 first-years also will shadow partners' client meetings and court appearances. The associates may handle some client work, but at significantly reduced rates.
The program does come at a cost. Drinker will reduce first year associate salaries, which range from $145,000 to $160,000, to an annualized rate of $105,000. Salaries will return to whatever the "prevailing market rates" are in the spring of 2010. This will enable the firm to cover the costs of the training program.
"In the last few years, there has been push back from clients who want more experienced lawyers," Drinker chairman Alfred Putnam, Jr, tells The Am Law Daily. Initial feedback from clients about the program has been positive, Putnam says.
The move is a departure in the Philadelphia market. Most of Drinker's local competition has opted to defer start dates for incoming associates. Dechert has pushed the start dates for two-thirds of its 2009 first-year class into the spring and fall 2010. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has deferred all new associates until fall 2010. And Blank Rome won't see new associates in its offices until January 2010.
Drinker Biddle had a good year in 2008. According to the most recent Am Law 100 survey, published this May, gross revenue increased 7 percent to $382 million, and profits per partner also moved up 5.2 percent to $605,000.Make a comment