The Firms

April 14, 2009 7:31 PM

Goodwin Procter Pushes Start Dates Into 2010

Posted by Ross Todd

Goodwin Procter is the latest firm to delay start dates for incoming first-year associates.

The firm sent an e-mail message Tuesday evening to about 120 law students who were planning to start at Goodwin in the fall. Here's the gist of the announcement: half the class, or about 60 grads, will start in January 2010. For those folks, Goodwin will pay a stipend--no specifics are available yet on the actual amount--to help cover the costs of studying for and taking the Bar exam, and moving. The rest of the class will have a bit more time on their hands--their start date has been moved to October 2010.

Goodwin, like several other Am Law 200 firms, is encouraging its hires to opt for the later start date and to spend the year working for a nonprofit or public interest law organization. Those who choose this option will receive a $60,000 stipend, plus health care benefits, during the "fellowship" year.

Recognizing the challenges in placing about 60 lawyers in volunteer jobs, Goodwin has engaged the services of Commongood Careers, a nonprofit search firm. Commongood is being asked to identify about 100 positions for the newbie lawyers at such organizations as Teach for America, Jumpstart, and City Year. The search firm also will help Goodwin to match associates with jobs and to provide some prep sessions on what's required in working for a nonprofit.

"We’ve gone out and identified at a high level of granularity the actual positions that folks can take," says Goodwin national hiring partner Michael Kendall in an interview with The Am Law Daily. Kendall says firm partners first considered what to do with its incoming class around the time the firm laid off lawyers and staff in February. “We could have just lobbed out an announcement that said, 'if you find a public interest job we’ll pay you 60 grand,'” says Kendall. "But we did it the way we thought it should be done."

Kendall says a team of partners will be reaching out to the 120 law students by phone on Wednesday to review the firm's plans and the students' options. "We want about half to choose October, but realistically we know that won't happen," he says.

What's the plan for getting the numbers right?

Frankly, Kendall says, there is no plan...yet.

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